Motivation through Competition at John Hersey High

“We've used Mastercam for eight years now. We love the product. It's been absolutely solid, and does everything we want. It never fails us. It doesn't matter what product my students are designing and it doesn't matter what CNC machines they are using, everything is tied together with Mastercam in the middle.”
-David Wietrzak
Project Lead the Way and Robotics Instructor
John Hersey High School
Arlington Heights, IL
John Hersey High School's engineering courses provide students with a solid foundation for more advanced learning experiences involving manufacturing products that will be tested in competition with other students. In one class students spend a year designing and manufacturing super-mileage gasoline-powered cars. JHHS also has an after-school robotics program in which students each design and build battle robots.

The Challenge


Motivate students by engaging them in competitions requiring real-world manufacturing skills and knowledge.

  The Solution
  Mastercam Mill, Router, and Lathe and a 100-seat network license
  • Mastercam is easy to learn and use
  • Seamless integration with other software used by the students
  • Advanced capabilities make student projects more competitive
  • Exposure to the software that is most widely used in higher education and industry
  Project Details

The courses and extra-curricular activities at JHHS are centered on a total manufacturing concept. In the school's Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) lab, students use Autodesk Inventor to design their products. Once their designs are complete, they import them into Mastercam to create computer aided machining files. This allows students to manufacture their parts on one of several computer numerical control (CNC) machines at the school—two mills, a router, a lathe, and a plasma cutter.

For most of their creations, it only takes about 30 minutes to set up the machine and cut the part. After inspecting the finished product, the student can return to the computer to modify the design based on the prototype and the manufacturing process. Their experience is similar to what happens in industry.

John Hershey is one of five high Schools in the Township High School District that rely on Mastercam for their pre-engineering courses and extra-curricular activities. Wietrzak said the schools believed that Mastercam "would allow our students to handle anything that they would need to do in their coursework and their more advanced projects. Mastercam is also the software used by a majority of engineering schools and manufacturers, so it gives them better preparation for what they will be encountering in the future."

In order to reduce the total cost of the CAM software district-wide, and ensure that every student can have access to Mastercam whenever they need it, the district arranged for 100 licenses of the software. Wietrzak estimates that, with all of the schools combined, there are between 200 and 250 users of the software. With the networked licenses, no student has ever had to wait to use it.

Each year, just before Thanksgiving break, Wietrzak invites graduated students to return to the classroom to share their experiences with his current students. He said, "Our students have landed some very interesting jobs. Whether they are working for an aerospace company or a local manufacturer, their stories often shock us."

"What we do here every day is to try to make learning fun and relevant to real world experiences. Then our former students come in at Thanksgiving and tell us what they have been up to since they graduated. Many of them are working with Mastercam as an integral part of their careers. That is how we know that what we are doing is the right thing."

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