Tooling Up for the Future at White Bear Lake
Establishing a new manufacturing technology program at White Bear Lake High School has taken a lot of dedication on the part of the school, the faculty, and members of the local business community. Their success can be seen in the caliber of work being turned out by the students, by the expansion of the curriculum, and by the support shown by industry leaders.
Mill 3D, Lathe, Multiaxis
When Delroy Nyren started a Manufacturing Career Pathway program at White Bear Lake High School two years ago, he found the tools on hand to do the job sorely lacking. “I didn’t have a manufacturing CAD/CAM lab,” said Nyren. “I had one little CNC desk top router, a couple of 3D printers, and some manual equipment. I didn’t have anything that would help the kids prepare for jobs in today’s advanced manufacturing environment.” Nyren knew that with assistance from their local manufacturing community, he’d be able to determine the curriculum that would benefit his students and the equipment features that would correspond to industry’s needs.
To get the ball rolling, he went out and started knocking on the doors of local manufacturing companies. “I was a little hesitant at first,” Nyren says, “because I thought their reaction would be ‘oh, he just wants money.’ Once I explained to them that I was more interested in their input and for them to see what we had and where we wanted to go with the program, it began a series of classroom visits that had industry leaders telling our students about all the jobs available to them in advanced manufacturing and advising me what curriculum and equipment requirements would help our students prepare for those careers.”
It wasn’t long before Nyren and his dialogues with industry attracted the attention of United Way. “Somewhere down the line,” he says, “somebody said to the United Way people, ‘you need to talk to Delroy. He’s got some ideas and he’s trying to do something.’ So, they came in to talk and they kept coming back, listening to me talk about our program and plans for the program’s future. To make a fairly short story shorter, we were awarded a $250,000 grant to help get our program off the ground.”
Nyren responded quickly to the suggestions made by his industry contacts regarding equipment that would help his students roll up their sleeves and become immersed in the manufacturing disciplines they would need to learn to succeed in today’s shops and plants. His classroom CAD/CAM lab now boasts SOLIDWORKS® and Mastercam software, while the shop area now includes a Haas CNC mill and a Haas CNC lathe, in addition to a CNC plasma cutter and a virtual augmented welder from Miller Electric. “Our equipment provides a wide range of experiences for our students,” says Nyren, “in order to give them a sense of feeling what manufacturing is all about.”
Nyren says that one of the neatest things for him is when their friends from the metalworking industry come into the school, they see the software and machine tools that they have recommended. “They suggested we get Mastercam for programming the toolpaths,” he says. “We now have twelve seats of Mastercam for our students to program their work for the CNC mill and lathe. These industry people see that we have listened to them and are preparing our students for both college entrance and for employment in their companies to meet a growing need out here for qualified programmers and CNC operators.”
The United Way grant has also allowed him to provide the students with Rich Wessels, a career navigator, just for the Manufacturing Career Pathway program. “He’s not a school counselor and he’s not even a school employee,” says Nyren. “He’s from a local company called HIRED, a professional workforce development organization. Wessels has the criteria to help optimize each student’s technical skills.”
“Our curriculum,” Nyren says, “goes from fundamental manufacturing processes all the way into CNC machine controls. The first levels are a little bit more exploratory, introducing the students to parametric modeling and looking at geometric dimensioning at an entry level. I lead them quickly into programs that involve Mastercam toolpath programming and CNC machining. I get them involved with automated manufacturing within our entry-level course because I want to build on their excitement all the way through to our Precision Machining II level.”
Many of Nyren’s students have aspiration of becoming engineers. “But right now, they’re just ‘idea’ people,” he says. “They like the ‘idea’ of becoming an engineer and it’s my job to teach them the manufacturing basics that will help them realize their dream. I remind them, ‘whether you think about fabricating things out of wood, or plastic, or metal, you should take the material’s name out of it and it’s all manufacturing.’ Today, that means automated manufacturing and that leads up to the products you find in the home, on the shelf, or in the showroom.”
“Our equipment provides a wide range of experiences for our students,” says Nyren, “in order to give them a sense of feeling what manufacturing is all about.”– Delroy Nyren, Instructor, White Bear Lake High School, White Bear Lake, Minnesota
Develop a curriculum that will attract students to a new program aimed at teaching them to become proficient in both the software and the hardware facets of automated manufacturing.
- Easy for students to grasp
- Versions available for a variety of machine tools
- Teacher assistance as needed
- Stepped to remove difficulty from complexity as students advance