New robots at CCSD high schools set students up for successful futures
During lunch on Tuesday, August 24th, a ribbon ceremony was held at Sky View High School to welcome two new industrial automation robots to the school's automation programs. After the ceremony, students enjoyed hands-on demonstrations with the robots, which were provided for their school by Bridgerland Technical College and the Cache County School District. Bridgerland donated a FANUC 6-axis robot each to Sky View, Green Canyon, Ridgeline, and Mountain Crest High Schools. The school district also purchased a Yamaha Scara robot for each school.
Matt Fuller, Department Head of Automated Manufacturing at Bridgerland Technical College, has worked with each high school in northern Utah to create a program for students interested in manufacturing and other automation industries. His goal is to provide opportunities for hands-on learning and experience that will help students in their future careers.
This partnership goes back to 2014, when Bridgerland, Cache County School District, Logan School District, and Rich School District applied for a grant through the Utah STEM Action Center. They received a $500,000 grant to purchase broadcasting equipment, automation equipment, 3D printers, pneumatic equipment, motor controls, microcontrollers, and 3D modeling programs. “What we wanted to do was put automation equipment into every high school in northern Utah and give these students an opportunity to complete a full certificate while they were in high school,” Fuller explained. Students can receive a 900-hour certificate, which will help them get a high-paying job right out of high school and count as up to 48 credit hours at Utah State University.
Students can take classes during the school day at their high school and Bridgerland Technical College. They can also participate in the AM STEM Academy. This self-paced, early-morning program allows students to receive instruction from Bridgerland instructors via live stream. As a result, students gain competency in skills that Cache Valley employers look for in their employees.
Since 2013, alums of CCSD high schools who participated in these programs have seen successful careers because of what they learned during high school. For example, Nate Merrill, a Sky View alumnus, is now working on several big projects at Specialized Analysis Engineering (SAE), an engineering company in Logan. “AM STEM gave me a great foundation for what I needed to know working at SAE and doing engineering. When I went to interview there and get hired, they were excited that I had some of that hands-on practical knowledge. It was a huge part of why they wanted to hire me,” Merrill said.
Manufacturing accounts for 23% of the workforce in Cache Valley. “With several thousand robots in northern Utah, manufacturing is the lifeblood of our community, and there is a need for individuals with these skillsets across the country, nation, and even globally. We want our students to be wildly successful. To do that, they have to elevate their level of proficiency and understanding of automation. And our programs give them that,” said Fuller.