Science,Technology Center allows high training level

Plymouth High School senior Andrew Meyer works on a welding project in the metal fabrication facility at the school. — Submitted photo Plymouth High School senior Andrew Meyer works on a welding project in the metal fabrication facility at the school. — Submitted photo Area students are better prepared for a number of engineering and technical careers, thanks to the LTC-Plymouth Science & Technology Center located in Plymouth High School, which was completed a year ago.

“The new facility allows us to provide a higher level of curriculum,” said PHS tech ed instructor Greg Gritt. “We are teaching the students a lot more application, using many different skills to perform tasks that they would not have been able to use before.”

The center is a unique collaboration involving Lakeshore Technical College, the Plymouth School District, the City of Plymouth and the Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce Operations Managers Roundtable. The facility is used by PHS students during school hours, and by LTC students in the evenings.

“The courses now available through our Science and Technology Center provide students with the exciting opportunities to learn advanced math and science concepts through high-tech application projects that lead directly to career pathways or college credits,” said Superintendent Clark Reinke.

More than half of the cost of the $1.2 million project was covered by a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The city of Plymouth provided an additional $250,000 in economic development funds, along with $280,000 in in-kind donations from LTC and the school district. In addition, Sargento Foods Inc. donated a high-speed packaging machine, and the Van Horn Automotive Group has pledged $15,000 a year for three years in improvements to the automotive lab.

Thanks to the center, PHS students are able to design projects using industry-standard CAD programs, then produce three-dimensional models and finally create and finish projects using high-tech mills and a lathe. They also can learn metal fabrication in a professional welding training facility.

During the recently concluded first semester, classes focused on safety and proper machine use. The more advanced classes of the second semester will bring problem-solving projects to challenge students, Mr. Gritt said. In addition, open labs are held once a month to allow students an opportunity to finish homework and do personal projects.

Gritt, tech ed instructor Jake Sherman and auto instructor Mike Fels are pleased with how the first year in the new facility has gone.

“There has been great support from local businesses in terms of donations, tours and insight into what might work better from a curriculum standpoint,” Gritt said.

The students have been the biggest beneficiaries of the new labs and equipment, but Mr. Gritt said the instructors’ understanding and knowledge of the software and machines also has greatly improved in the past year.

“Our administration has been so good about providing training for Jake and myself,” he said. “They have been amazing through the whole process and have helped with any needs that arise.”

The center grew out of discussions by area manufacturers about the shortage of workers trained on high-tech manufacturing equipment. Work began in the fall of 2010, and was largely completed in time for the beginning of the 2011-12 school year. A high-speed packaging machine was put in place in January 2012, and a CNC plasma cutter and a sandblaster were added for the 2012-13 school year.

The facility includes manufacturing and computer laboratories, high-speed packaging equipment, updated classrooms and space for LTC staff to provide training and outreach activities. Among the high-tech labs are:

· CAD Lab, with computeraided design software and a threedimensional printer.

· CNC Lab, with state-of-the-art Haas CNC mills and a Haas lathe.

· Engineering Lab, with control panel and immersive CNC simulators for Haas high-tech mills.

· Graphics Lab, with a laser engraver.

· Manufacturing Lab, with a high-speed packaging machine manufactured by Viking-Masek and a sand-blaster, as well as manual mills and lathes.

· Welding Lab, with profes- sional metal fabrication training booths and a CNC plasma cutter.

Visit www.plymouth.k12. to learn more about the LTCPlymouth Science & Technology Center.

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