As Desert View High School students took measurements and created plane parts and tools for a Tucson business during a precision manufacturing class, a group of school administrators, principals, teachers and school board members saw how the Tucson school integrates technology and learning during a tour led by the National School Boards Association’s Technology Leadership Network.
The program is one of several efforts to meet the critical need to develop skilled machinists as the industry faces a shortage as many current machinists near retirement age, according to an Arizona Public Media story and video.
“The program is the result of education partnering with local industry and government,” said Cesar Gutierrez, who teaches drafting, design and precision manufacturing to students at the high school in Sunnyside Unified School District.
The Desert View High School students take part in a Pima County Joint Technical Education District program on their high school campus that is supported in partnership with the Southern Arizona Manufacturing Partnership, the Pima County Arizona@Work Agency and Pima Community College.
Students in the nationally accredited program based on industry specifications and National Institute of Metalworking Skills standards for manufacturing can earn various Level 1 certifications, Gutierrez said.
“The students apply what they learn by creating these real world projects,” Gutierrez said. “Applied learning gives students an opportunity to bring relevancy to their academic studies. Math concepts come alive.”
Students use Hi-Tech Machining & Engineering’s designs and specifications to create parts and tools for the Tucson business, a member of Southern Arizona Manufacturing Partners, according to a story on Tucson News Now.
“The parts must be made to industry specifications and they go through multiple testing processes at the school before being given to the industry partner who tests them again before certifying and releasing to the airplane manufacturer,” Gutierrez said.
The experience the students receive in the program is no different than it would be if they were on the job at a local industry site, Gutierrez said.
“It is a win-win situation as the students are gaining valuable certifications and skills that are recognized internationally,” Gutierrez said. “Business and industry benefit by have a pipeline of skilled workers to fill the many openings they have as their skilled workforce retires.”
Also, schools reap benefits from partnerships between students and businesses, said Caroline VanIngen-Dunn, director of community college STEM pathways for the Science Foundation of Arizona during a presentation at the Southwest Global Pathways Conference in early May in Scottsdale.
“They benefit in the successful transaction, because then industries become better engaged in curriculum development, providing more internship experiences and sharing resources,” VanIngen-Dunn said.
With the skills they develop in the program, students are able to receive college scholarships, paid internships and/or jobs at a higher than average wage in the local economy, Gutierrez said.
“This provides them and their families with economic security and a clear career pathway with many options for their future,” Gutierrez said.
Students have told Gutierrez that they are now able to see the many options they have for their future.
Evelyn Plascencia, a student in the program, told Tucson News Now that the skills she’s learned in the program will let her “have a secure life, have secure money and do something I really enjoy.”
“Many students in the program never envisioned that college was an option, and now many are seeing that they are capable as they earn college credits in high school, and many receive scholarships and paid internships,” Gutierrez said.
If students choose to work right out of high school, they will have the ability to earn a livable wage, Gutierrez said.
“The nationally-recognized credentials open doors and provide proof of their skills as well as confidence in their abilities,” Gutierrez said.