Students get hands-on experience with computers
by Elane Jones
Feb 09, 2013 | 1689 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Students at Oakman High School are taking advantage of state and federal grants that are giving them the chance to study computer-aided drawing and computer-aided machining. Daily Mountain Eagle - Elane Jones
Students at Oakman High School are taking advantage of state and federal grants that are giving them the chance to study computer-aided drawing and computer-aided machining. Daily Mountain Eagle - Elane Jones
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OAKMAN — State and federal grant money found its way to Oakman High School, and students in the school’s agriscience class are enjoying a rare opportunity to study computer-aided drawing (CAD) and computer-aided machining (CAM). The students are taking that unique experience to the next level by developing their own custom projects from inception to completion.

“The students are engaged and excited throughout the whole computer numerically controlled (CNC) experience, and they hate to see the equipment move on to the next location,” said Oakman ag teacher Brad Murray. “The students receive much more than an opportunity to machine a custom project. They also take away some math using the X,Y,Z axis, and how they are used in the medical field with skin grafts and in the textile industries cutting fabric, measurements, material size, thickness and fractions. Science is also brought in by using a Penn State Air Mover.”

Murray spent three days this summer at a workshop sponsored by the Alabama Center for Advanced Woodworking Technology to update his professional development in an effort to bring the CNC Engraving Equipment to Oakman High this school year.

Jeff Noble, a member of the adjunct faculty for the ACAWT, spent three days this week at Oakman High School educating the students as well as updating Murray in the art CAD and CAM.

“We usually complete several projects with each class, from making custom coasters to making custom engraved wooden pens, during the three days we are present at the schools,” Noble said. “After I leave, the equipment stays at the school for approximately three weeks before moving on to the next location.”

Noble said the Alabama Center for Advanced Woodworking Technology is based in Haleyville and is a division of the Alabama Industrial Development Training based in Montgomery.

“For a lack of a better word, we bring the field trip to the school and leave it for the students to enjoy for a short while,” Noble said. “We not only have the CNC Engraving Equipment, but we also have the CNC routers, which we will take to at least 21 schools statewide this school year alone.”

Noble said teachers and students hate to see the equipment move on and most school systems diligently look into obtaining the funding necessary to bring the CNC experience to their school systems full-time.

“This opportunity is made possible by the efforts of Gary Warren, a member of the State Board of Education, who has continued to support agriscience and secondary educators and create new ways to bring the latest and greatest experiences to the classroom,” Noble said. “The cost of the equipment is very expensive. The smaller CNC engraver runs about $30,000, so small school systems can’t afford it, but the benefits this opportunity provides to the students within our state is priceless.”