Machining students learning with real-world motivation

Originally published Jan. 14, 2013.

Mick Jarrett's machine trade vocational students aren't just busy learning the ins and outs of precision machining; they are also busy manufacturing various mechanical parts - parts that are purchased by a local industry and by Bad Dad Custom Motorcycle Finishes of Fort Wayne.

Between the two companies, 10 different parts are purchased, says Jarrett.

"Companies want to help us train students to make parts that are shipped all over the world," he says.

"It helps them understand they have to get it right."

The local industry that purchases various parts for its conveyor systems has been purchasing parts from Jarrett's students since 2002.

Bad Dad of Fort Wayne has recently begun purchasing brackets that attach backrests, saddlebags and fenders to customized Harley Davidson Motorcycles.

"It started (in 2002) with one company, one part, one time per year. Over the years we have added a company and demand has increased, and now we spend about a quarter of our time working on these parts," says Jarrett.

"It may take us a little longer to make these parts," he adds, "But the companies see the educational and financial benefits to our program."

Two employees of Bad Dad are past students of Jarrett's, he notes. Which, he says, is how the company became involved with his students.

The vocational students use the funds accumulated by doing business with these companies in several ways.

Jarrett says the funds make it possible for his students to participate in national competitions, which he says is a big part of what his students do every day.

The students will compete in a SkillsUSA contest in February, an Indiana National Tooling Machining Association competition on Jan. 19 and a competition in conjunction with South Adams High School later this spring.

The funds also help pay for his students' membership to SkillsUSA, an organization that promotes itself as "a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce."
In addition, scholarships are funded with the earnings, allowing $2,000 to $3,000 each year to be distributed to vocational students going on to college, says Jarrett.

The money is also used for projects such as Christmas gift donations to the Salvation Army.

The remaining money (about one-third) goes back into the program to help buy tools and recruit new students, says Jarrett.

Precision Machining is Huntington County Community School Corporation's "best kept secret," says Jarrett.

"It isn't advertised a lot," he adds.

His students - of which there are 24 this school year - are participating in a two-year program offered to students in grades 10, 11 and 12. This year, he says he only has three students in their second year of the program.

These young men (this year's class has no females enrolled) are offered the opportunity to obtain certification from the National Institute for Metalworking, if funds are available, says Jarrett.

Also, he works in conjunction with Ivy Tech and Vincennes University to help his students earn college credit.

It is important to help the program keep going, says Jarrett, as many manufacturing employers need to make sure there are skilled recruits entering the workforce.

Industries are beginning to understand they need to help us, he says.

Jarrett says in the future he hopes the relationship producing parts for Bad Dad and local industry continues, and other members of the industry will help assist the program with advertising these and other products.

Complete caption: Roger Jones, senior vocational student at Huntington North High School, practices edgework for the upcoming Indiana National Tooling Machining Association competition on Saturday, Jan. 19. Jones and his classmates are able to pay for participation in this and other competitions using funds raised by manufacturing precision machining parts for local industries.