Mt. Pleasant High School is expanding its on-campus welding program with a $10,000 donation from the Columbia-based BMC Metalworks.
Principal Ryan Jackson said the program “closes the gap between industry and education” in Maury County.
The $10,000 contribution will provide additional support to the high school’s welding pathway program and will revitalize the high school’s welding lab with funds for additional equipment.
The donation will further expand the school system’s STEAM initiative, combining science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics, and provide additional training to prepare students for future careers in manufacturing.
Jackson said the contribution fuels a longtime investment in the school’s students who could provide an end to a shortage of skilled labor in southern Middle Tennessee. It makes another step forward in the high school’s ongoing effort to build relationships with local companies that are searching for skilled workers in a region with record low unemployment.
“They are helping us close that gap and fight this shortage by preparing the students of today for the jobs of tomorrow,” Jackson said.
Throughout the manufacturing industry, there is an ever-increasing demand for skilled professionals who can design, program and operate technology. Reports indicate that in the next 10 years, manufacturers will need to fill 4.6 million jobs.
“Trained, certified and workforce ready. That is what this is all about. This will change the trajectory of students’ lives.” BMC Metalworks is a full service machining, press repair and fabrication company. Its field team provides 24-hour emergency service to manufactures across the country.
The company also maintains an active welding shop that is capable of working with most steels and alloys. The welding shop offers the most popular welding services, including tack welding, spot welding and overlay or build-up welding using a variety of welding practices.
“We are very, very excited to participate in the curriculum and excited about the relationship going forward — building blocks to provide the students greater career opportunities,” said Jimmy Phillips, the president of BMC Metalworks.
The investment further develops a welding program first introduced at the high school in 2018, with funds from a a $500,000 contribution from a Columbia-based research company Parker Hannifin and its predecessor CLARCOR. The students who commit to the program will be able to graduate high school as certified welders and fabricators and be offered employment with BMC Metalworks.
Jackson said the program will give the high school students “life-changing opportunities.”
In Nov. 2019, Phillips along with other representatives from BMC Metalworks visited the newly established welding program at Mt. Pleasant.
“Starting at this age, that is the key,” Phillips told The Daily Herald after speaking with the students. “I see this as the students getting a head start. Even this early on, we are very impressed with where they are. It is a major building block.”
During the visit, the company was celebrating its 45th anniversary. Three years earlier, BMC Metalworks expanded its operations with a new 3,000 square foot state-of-the-art CNC precision and high volume machining center. The company’s new precision machining department began work with a CNC lathe that could carryout live tooling along with an additional CNC suited for high volume turning and turn parts which require additional milling and drilling. When celebrating the company’s 40th anniversary in 2014, the company experienced a 20 to 40% year-over-year growth and doubled its workforce since 2009. Over the past decade, BMC has grown to more than 50 employees and has continued to expanded its service footprint to include all of North America.
The latest contribution is the latest in an ongoing effort to expand students’ exposure to career and technical education and an ongoing effort to integrate cooperative hands-on learning into each classroom in the district.
Project-based learning, or PBL, is a student-centered method. It involves a dynamic classroom approach centered on the belief that students acquire a deeper knowledge through active exploration of real-world challenges and problems. Students learn about a subject by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a complex question, challenge, or problem. It is a style of active learning and inquiry-based learning. PBL contrasts with paper-based, routine memorization, or teacher-led instruction that presents established facts or portrays a smooth path to knowledge by instead posing questions, problems or scenarios.
Mt. Pleasant High School has spearheaded the effort through its mechatronics program, working on collaborative projects like student designed and built escape rooms, the construction of a tiny home, and an effort to use drones to help farmers better care for their land and fight the spread of Zika.
Earlier this year, Mt. Pleasant’s Elementary, Middle and High Schools received the Tennessee STEM School Designation alongside Randolph Howell Elementary, also in Mt. Pleasant. A total of 22 schools across the state have earned the distinction for 2020, selected by the Tennessee Department of Education along with the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network.
Mike Christen is the multimedia editor for The Daily Herald. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and find him on Twitter at @MikeChristenCDH.