A new program is giving Rapid City high schoolers a taste of the manufacturing industry. The partnership between Stevens High School and South Dakota School of Mines and Technology is being called a modern revival of shop class.
The design for manufacturing partnership began when School of Mines mechanical engineering instructor Aaron Lalley met Stevens High School teacher Jason Reub through a manufacturing summer camp a few years ago. Lalley says Reub was already bringing some manufacturing skills into his classroom, and the partnership seemed natural.
Lalley also says there’s a need for engineering graduates to have the design skills that can come from a more modern take on shop class.
“You know, the shop classes today don’t look the same as they did 20 years ago," Lalley says. "Jason’s classes are a great example. I mean he’s doing 3D printing, laser cutting, and a lot of design software training. And our first year course is real similar, we’re teaching a lot of the same things.”
The partnership between SD Mines and Stevens High School offers students training in manually operated mills and manual machining. Students can use the machinery to cut raw materials like steel into the parts needed for their designs. That experience with the early design process can make students more efficient manufacturers in the future.
Lalley says at this beginning level, high schoolers can design what interests them—from mugs to coasters to catapults.
“One group is doing an R2D2 garbage can," he adds. "But then conceptually you know it’s just to get the manufacturing skills at this level. Then they turn around here in the sophomore year and then they’re gonna design products that might be focused on energy conservation or autonomous robotry. “
He says this partnership establishes vertical integration from late high school through college engineering programs and then into the work force.
The design for manufacturing partnership with Stevens High School is underway this semester. Lalley says he hopes to establish partnerships with other Rapid City schools in the future.