(The following is a release from Weakley County Schools Communications Director Karen Campbell)
A sign of the times could very well be that Gleason School is making signs.
Students in the Principles of Agriculture Mechanics course have waited a couple of months to get their hands on the newest tool in Weakley County’s Career and Technical Education offerings. The Computer Numerical Control (CNC) laser uses a method for automating control of machine tools through the use of software embedded in a microcomputer attached to the tool.
With the proper set up of computer to CNC laser and access to both water and the proper voltage, products that could adorn a “farmhouse chic” wall or provide directions to a local business is possible. While a few obstacles had to be overcome – namely installing a new outlet and getting the correct cords for the machinery as well as correcting programming – production has begun.
“I’m thrilled that we now have this $14,000 piece of equipment that will help introduce our students to another potential career path,” said Lindsey Parham, director of the CTE program for Weakley County Schools. “And while they are learning that skill, they will also be able to benefit from the soft skills they develop as they use the signs they produce in annual fundraisers for FFA.”
Parham says she hopes to soon have a means by which each high school in the county can produce a marketable product that can then be used for fundraising.
The process of making a sign involves creating the design, proper programming of the computer to guide in the laser cutting, and adding finishing touches. Gleason’s CTE Ag teacher and FFA advisor Steve Stigall has been learning the process alongside his students. Weakley County Schools technology department were also called in to help overcome some of the initial hurdles.
“With a four-foot-by-four-foot workspace, we have the potential to create a consistent product line,” noted Parham. “And with the students being safely guided in how to produce the signs along with promoting, pricing and placing them before the public, our students will get a glimpse at what small business owners must know to be successful.”