Skilled to Work: High school course helps prepare students for jobs in advanced manufacturing, machining

Students participate in a hands-on project in the advanced manufacturing course at Bob Jones High School.
Students participate in a hands-on project in the advanced manufacturing course at Bob Jones High School.

Students who go through the advanced manufacturing and machining course at Bob Jones will have the opportunity to earn four industry certifications.

Posted: Dec 21, 2019 12:53 AM

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.

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