Thanks to the donations of a Boyd school board member, high school students will have the opportunity to run a machine that they could see in the workplace.
The new Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine that school board member Bill Childress donated to the district will soon be operated by BHS engineering students.
“It’s basically just a computer run machine to cut parts out of metal,” student Dustin Boyd said.
The machine is one of the first of its kind to be put into a Wise County school.
With a CNC machine, the students will be able to plot blueprints and map designs for things ranging from car parts to furniture.
“It’s limitless, really,” Boyd said.
The students won’t be making anything just yet, though. First, they’re learning how to make blueprints and memorize the g-codes that tell the computer what to do.
G-codes operate like coordinates on a map or HTML codes on a computer – they’re a series of codes that start with the letter “g” that can be used to tell the CNC computer which direction to cut, what direction to move in, how far to cut and so forth.
“You have to know the operations of it, and each code has a certain meaning, like how to spin a drill bit a certain way or at a certain speed,” Boyd said.
Right now, the students mostly learn from YouTube videos since there is no other curriculum in place.
The students said they liked online learning better than traditional lectures.
“It’s been different for the YouTube thing, but I like it better, actually,” Bradley Tedrow said. “They dumb it down for us a lot, which helps.”
A lot of the students’ parents work with CNC machines for their jobs, which also makes it easier to take the work home and learn, teacher Dawn Caddell said.
“They can actually see how the machines work, and they bring that skill here, and that’s helped me a lot,” she said. “We’re working on partnering with the workforce commission and some other businesses to set up some internships for the kids, so they can see how to run the machines and … pad their resumes.”
Many of the students said they want to go into engineering jobs in the future, and enjoy coming to Caddell’s class every day.
“It’s pretty good money,” Tedrow said.
Caddell said while this group is the inaugural class, they will be able to start building next year and then impart their knowledge to other students.
“It’s a big deal for a school of our size to have a program like this, and I’m excited we get to use this type of technology,” she said.
Within a few years, the students will have built a program of which they can be proud.