It only takes a spark to light an interest in a student’s future. Inside the Mechatronics classroom at Clarksville High School, sparks were flying as students had the opportunity to experience TIG welding first-hand through participation in the Blue Collar Tour hosted by Western Welding Academy.
“Not everybody is going to college,” said John Froboese, the advanced manufacturing and mechatronics teacher at Clarksville High. “It’s opening their eyes and sparking an interest in something they may not have considered before.”
The Blue Collar Tour was designed to introduce students to welding and the high-demand, high-wage career fields in the trades.
“The trades don’t have to be something you fall back on,” said Devan Granger, an instructor with Western Welding Academy. “You can be proud of that choice. You can be one of the men and women who keep the lights on in this country.”
The professional welding academy selected 30 schools across the United States to visit. Mr. Froboese said a student first brought the opportunity to his attention, and he was happy to apply. “[It was] something to give them a goal for a career and learn how to move forward,” he said.
The Western Welding Academy brings in all the tools and equipment needed to try welding. Students watched a demonstration and then could test the tools on their own. In between, they spoke with professional welders and learned more about the career path. Networking opportunities such as these are what teachers hope to introduce to their students.
“We invite different companies and academies in [to the class] to show the relevance of what we’re teaching to the real world,” said Melissa Nolan, the agriculture science teacher at Clarksville High. Her courses include environmental and natural sciences, which include agricultural mechanics.
Mr. Froboese leads Advanced Manufacturing courses at the high school. This pathway is just one of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) options at Clarksville High. There are over 34 different pathways offered across the district. Students in Mr. Froboese’s classes are introduced to advanced manufacturing, robotics, automated systems, and mechatronics.
The goal is for students to graduate with their OSHA-10 certification and the foundational tech skills needed to be competitive in the job market. “Technology is always advancing. Manufacturers and businesses need those techs who know how to perform the maintenance,” said Mr. Froboese.
“My goal is to be the guy I didn’t have in high school,” said Granger. “I was told if I didn’t go to college, I wouldn’t amount to much. It couldn’t be further from the truth.”
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