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BITA spends 130,000 on new, safer equipment for students in the shop

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With the help of a large money grant from the district, Mr. Bret Hunter has been working toward making the Business Industry Technology Academy classes his own, after taking on the new role as the new teacher after the retirement of Mr. Alek Ustaszewski.

“Our district amongst other districts received a large CTE funding grant and from that grant it was meant to help further along the CTE curriculum around the county and the district. Our school received a piece of it and our shop here was able to receive $130,000,” Hunter said.

Hunter spent a lot of time researching which equipment would be the best edition to the shop and which machines students would benefit the most from.

“When we have money that comes in, we need to able to research. We can’t just spend money on something that looks cool. Part of it was me researching new trends in the industry, looking into the direction that we are going and then talking to local industries about what they are doing and innovative ideas. We provided a lot of evidence and forwarded that to the district office so they can review it as the third party of using what industry says to what our research says to basically make sure that the money is being spent appropriately,” Hunter said.

Ultimately, the research lead to three new high-tech machines and 20 new computers.

“One is our three-axis CNC which can hold a 4×8 sheet of plywood on it and cut out pretty much anything, I mean the sky’s the limit. Then a $25,000 four-axis CNC where we can build columns for our houses and furniture to cutting two sides to a three-dimensional object. Then our Sawstop, which is our table saw which has cutting edge technology where if your finger hits that blade, that blade is going to drop, so it takes the fear out of using the tool. Lastly, we have new computers. Our computers in all will cost around $45,000 for 20 computer set-ups, however, the benefit to it is that we will be using software that is being used in the industry; we are going to change how we learn in a classroom,” Hunter said.

Although the new computers haven’t been delivered yet, the upgrade will allow students to design from home and learn at their own pace.

“I can split a class into two now, have half of them out here [in the shop] working on a project, while the other half will have dual screen monitors set up and they are following an online tutorial about how to use the software, so if we have 50 videos to get through the right screen they could be building and the left side is a video on how to do it. It’s self-guided now, so it’s really neat. Now you learn at your own pace, and the software we are going to incorporate is cloud-based, so students who want to get even further ahead can actually use that exact same software at home for free, design stuff at home, and then bring it here in the shop to be able to build it and further their creation in our class,” Hunter said.

These various pieces of new equipment allowed one student, Joshua Fletcher, to create a project for the community.

“I’m in Boy Scouts right now and I’m trying to get the highest rank in Boy Scouts, which is Eagle Scouts. That’s why I’m making a buddy bench for Rock Creek Elementary school for my project, that way I can get my badge. A buddy bench is a certain bench where kids go at lunch or recess to make new friends. It starts a new scene for friendships. This project wouldn’t have been possible without the new equipment we’ve received. I couldn’t have done this without Mr. Hunter’s help. The new CNC machine will be engraving the buddy bench,” Fletcher said.

Not only has this grant lead to students thinking outside the box, but also for other local industries to assist in Hunter’s classroom experience.

“We have other funding coming in from the California Homeowners Foundation as well, so they are giving us around $5,000. There’s a software we are using called ProCore, which is industry management for projects, which they are going to pay for all of my training and give us the software program for free. So now not only has this grant been big, but the whole building industry is starting to realize there’s this need and that they need to get into the educational system to start training and changing stereotypes that are out there about building,” Hunter said.

With all the new advancements, senior Spencer Monroe only gets to experience the first stage.

“He is bringing a lot more new technology into the shop. Basically by adding the CNC into the shop, we are as modern as a shop can get. I feel like I missed out, finishing the program on the first year we received all of the new machines. I’ve been grateful for my time spent in the shop… if only there was more,” Monroe said.

The overall main goal of the class is to get students ready for building and creating after high school.

Hunter said, “By the time a kid is a senior here the goal is your off periods, you’re signing up for my special projects classes, you’re in here three to four classes out of your eight, and then looking at paid internships. We are growing that way, so when you graduate, the goal is you can go into a trade or you can go to junior college and have transferable college credit already, or maybe finishing an AA degree and becoming a contractor, or go to a four year school you can be an engineer, productive management, production manager. I want to have enough exposure to where kids get excited and realize there’s really cool jobs out there and that are just fun.”

BY MORGAN HAWKINS

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The student news site of Whitney High School in Rocklin, Calif.
BITA spends 130,000 on new, safer equipment for students in the shop