(Beloit, WI) By Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News
Beloit Memorial High School’s (BMHS) Technical Education Programming Space in the school’s lower level will be ready for students this fall, with technologies rivaling those anywhere.
“Our goal is to have the most comprehensive career and technical education program in the state,” said Ryan Rewey, the district’s new career and technical education director.
Not only has the space been transformed aesthetically with new paint, flooring, ceilings and more, but the Woods and Construction Lab as well as the Machining and CNC Lab have new equipment to train students for skilled jobs after graduation.
Contractors began revamping the space in December with the goal of cleaning, brightening, rewiring and modernizing facilities. District officials had met with committees from the following industries to get input on the best equipment for training: Building, cabinetry and millwork, welding, machining, graphic communications and digital media.
On a tour on Thursday, Rewey showed how the Welding and CNC Lab has been expanded by tearing down a wall separating the two spaces. On the welding side, there are 17 welding stations that include brand new miller tungsten inert gas (TIG) and metal inert gas (MIG) machines as well as updated ventilation.
In the middle there is a new classroom space which is rigged up for Haas training panels for learning about G-Code and M-Code, the programming languages for CNC.
On the other side of the enclosed classroom is the 12 brand new CNC mills and lathes where students will be able to practice making parts using specifications.
Lyndal Anthony, who has 30 plus years experience as a precision machinist and assembler and eight years as a teacher from East Dubuque, Ill,, said he will be first teaching students trigonometry so they can learn the G and M Codes, programming languages which are almost an industry standard.
Businesses who desperately need skilled workers and have little time to train them, will be able to get more skilled workers upon graduation. And the students will be offered apprenticeships at area companies in their junior and senior years.
In the newly remodeled Woods Lab students can learn millwork, cabinetry and more. There are two new Saw-Stop table saws in the space which Rewey said are perfect in an educational setting.
“Saw-Stop table saws sense a change in conductivity. If a finger should touch the blade, it instantly stops and lowers the blade into the table which is an awesome safety feature for staff and students,” Rewey said. “It’s a safe way for anyone to learn to operate equipment.”
There is also the existing CNC router allowing students to making signage.
In the attached Construction Lab there will be classroom space in the middle, with electrical, heating and ventilation, plumbing, siding, framing, roofing, masonry and drywall modules to give students a wide range of skills. Rewey said it’s a goal of his in the future for students to build a house every year.
Brad Austin, president of Corporate Contractors, Inc., the contractor for the project who also serves on the Construction Advisory Committee, said the new programming is a good way to expose kids to a variety of highly skilled trades which result in good paying jobs.
“The goal is to give students practical experience and help them learn what they really want to do in their life. They don’t know if they aren’t exposed,” Austin said.
Starting in the fall Rewey said students will be able to choose from four technical education career paths — machining, building construction, manufacturing and a new career path of computer repair and information technology (CISCO). After completing four to five classes in each area, students should be ready to be employed immediately after graduation or could apply their course work toward a degree at a school such as Blackhawk Technical College.
There are also a series of engineering courses for students who are interested in pursuing an engineering-related career path.
Under the new plan, students would be able to take exploratory courses in their freshman and sophomore years, and then settle on a career path.
Another goal of Rewey’s is to educate and expose middle students in science, technology, mathematics and engineering courses to the offerings at the high school so they can know what classes to choose when they are entering BMHS. Students may get to make special visits to BMHS to do hands-on activities.
Anthony, who will be starting new at BMHS with students this fall, said he’s excited to expose students to the technologies, which could open up their future to satisfying careers with high income. He said students familiarity with G-Code for use on CNC machines, for example, could make a starting wage of around $15 an hour. After a few years experience, he said many jobs in the skilled trades such an electrician field can pay from $60,000 to $100,000.
Rewey, who is also new this fall, was a technical education instructor for 11 years at Parker High School in Janesville, after teaching for two years in Albany Wis.
He has a one-year construction and remodeling diploma from Madison Area Technical College, a Bachelor of Science degree in technology education from the University of Wisconsin-Stout, a Master’s Degree in curriculum and instruction from National Louis University. He is currently finishing up a Master’s Degree in educational administration.