As school wound down for the holiday break, a group of mostly juniors and seniors at Bob Jones High School spent their final days making progress toward getting a certification in the world of advanced manufacturing.
"I didn’t think at first I would enjoy it, but the more I got into it, I feel like it came so easy to me and it’s just so much fun to do, I love getting to do it," said senior Allie Brown.
Brown is one of several students learning something not often seen in many high schools: engineering and advanced manufacturing techniques.
"I saw this class and I also saw all the certificates that would be offered to go with it, that I could get with the class. So I thought it would be a great opportunity to do that," said Brown.
Those certifications allow students to enter the workforce as a Certified Production Technician. It's something that instructor Jonathan Bailey said is invaluable in a place like the Tennessee Valley.
"Attaining this particular certification is, a Certified Production Technician, is not available usually at the high school level. I’ve only heard of a couple of high schools that actually offer that. But mostly, one of the great benefits is just the hands-on, getting to work on machines and kind of understand how they work," said Bailey.
Junior Devin Turner said his grandfather used to work at a manufacturing facility and taught him about this kind of work. He said that background translates to his current classwork.
"And so I got to know about that and then here I get to see a smaller scale of that," said Turner.
Brown hopes that other students in the school will take a look at this course and consider it as an alternative to the four-year college route.
"I don’t think that students understand that when you get this, you can, with just a few other certifications, you can go directly into the workplace and be making almost as much as someone else whose coming straight from a four-year school. Like I don’t think students really understand that," said Brown.
Bob Joens also has program at the school called the Society for Women Engineers. Brown said it creates a space for primarily women to learn more about the field and get face-to-face time with women in the industry.