By LAURA HAMMACK, guest columnist
One of the greatest benefits of the Ready Schools Initiative Grant that Brown County Schools received from the Regional Opportunities Initiative Inc. is our ability to use the grant funding to pay for teachers, administrators and community leaders to attend benchmarking visits to other districts where “best practices” are being deployed.
It has been such a gift to see school districts across the state and country offering unique opportunities for students to be engaged in relevant paths to success where their efforts are simultaneously advancing regional prosperity.
We have recognized through these benchmarking visits that it wouldn’t be appropriate to perfectly replicate any of the programs that we have been observing, because there are too many variables that correlate to the community where the programs are housed.
However, we have realized that the real power is coming from the selection of key program components and then applying them in a “what works” model for the community of Brown County.
During our last meeting of the board of school trustees, the board heard a presentation from two of our engineering teachers at Brown County High School, Mr. Christopher Townsend and Mr. Dean Keefauver. They presented a new program idea for students who attend Brown County School called Eagle Manufacturing.
This program is a student-run business that provides services to the community in the areas of engineering design, machining and graphics/promotional materials. Their mission is to prepare students with life and technical skills for their future after high school while providing high-quality products and services for industry and the community.
This program idea was developed after these two teachers and other school and community leaders observed student-run manufacturing businesses in three locations during ROI benchmarking visits across the state of Indiana and in Wisconsin.
The board approved the implementation of this new program and we are excited to get started in school year 2018-19. Students who participate in this program will take Advanced Manufacturing I and Advanced Manufacturing II for course credit. During these class periods, they will run the student-led manufacturing business.
Students who are enrolled in the program will be given jobs that provide a wide variety of training and experience for future college or career opportunities. Positions held within the Eagle Manufacturing program will consist of the following:
Machinists will run the CNC equipment including mills, lathes, routers and plasma cutters.
Engineering designers will work with 3D modeling software to create designs for the items that will be created for sale. They will work with customers to develop design ideas and will also operate and maintain all of the 3D printers used in the program.
Graphics/promotional design and production team members will be responsible for the design and production of graphics and promotional products that may include signage, awards, engraving, shirts, decals, etc. This work will involve the use of equipment including laser engravers, vinyl cutters, color plotters and heat presses.
The marketing manager will be responsible for raising awareness of Eagle Manufacturing, managing customer and community outreach, and organizing any special events or trips.
The office manager will be responsible for invoicing, tracking and recording hours, managing accounts, maintaining documents and more.
The production manager will be responsible for scheduling jobs, talking with clients/customers, bidding jobs, tracking supplies and materials needed, reviewing the quality of the finished product, providing job information to the office manager for invoicing, and other production management duties.
Students will be able to manufacture almost anything and will be more than happy to meet the manufacturing needs of the community. Students will be able to produce anything using 3D printing, CNC machining (mill, lathe, router, plasma cutter and laser engraving/cutter), graphic design and graphic production.
Eagle Manufacturing has a series of products that are designed, produced and sold within the school district, but much of the design and production work will be for outside companies. The team will assess any potential work request and determine on a job-by-job basis if it is within the capabilities of the business.
We hope the community of Brown County will use the skills and talents of the students in the Eagle Manufacturing program for any manufacturing needs. We will host public events where community members can tour the manufacturing facility and meet the student employees of the program. I hope that you will join us.
We are thrilled to provide this opportunity for students and can’t wait to witness the success of Eagle Manufacturing in our community.
Laura Hammack is superintendent of Brown County schools. She can be reached at 812-988-6601 or firstname.lastname@example.org.