With the unemployment rate at an all-time low and college debt an ever-growing concern, making a decision on what to do after high school is a big challenge for many students. But for Clarke Community Schools’ Senior, TJ Woods, and others in the Clarke industrial tech program, the future looks bright.

clarke schools industrial tech program

Senior TJ Woods spends his mornings at Altec as an intern through Clarke Community Schools’ Industrial Technology program.

Through Clarke’s Industrial Technology program, TJ and other students are given the opportunity to learn skilled trades that offer stability and the security of a good paycheck right after graduation. Offering everything from woodworking to welding and fabrication as well as digital design and drafting, the Clarke Industrial Technology classes have seen a steady increase in student interest and enrollment over the past few years.

“With the support from the members of the Industrial Technology Advisory Board, we’ve really been able to increase the availability of equipment like welders, CNC Plasma cutter, CNC Laser and 3D printing and recently added a Hydraulic Bender to our arsenal through a mini grant. This all lets us  expand course subject matter for real-world applications,”said David Lyden, Clarke’s Industrial Technology Instructor.

A first for the Clarke industrial tech department, and because of his commitment and skills, Clarke senior, TJ Woods starts his school day as an intern at the Altec’s Osceola body plant on Furnas Drive. From 8am to about 10:50am each day, TJ works with Altec design projects using SolidWorks, 3D Modeling software, and welding stainless steel truck body parts before returning to classes at the high school.

“Having a high school intern at Altec has been a win-win effort in working with Mr. Lyden and Jennifer Scott at the High School.” said Susan Miller, Recruiter at Altec. “Being a part of the Advisory Board, we’re always looking for ways to introduce students to local manufacturing careers. When Counselor Jennifer Scott said she had a senior very interested in a career in welding and one who would qualify as an intern, we jumped at the opportunity to be involved.”

Through this internship, TJ is picking up real-world experience and developing the skills that will open a career path right after graduation.

“This is exactly the success we were looking for when we brought the members of the Industrial Tech Advisory Board together,” said Bill Trickey, Executive Director of Clarke County Development Corporation. “Building a relationship between our industrial community and educators benefits everyone.”

See more photos from the Clarke Industrial Technology Program below:

Now in its third year, the Clarke Community Schools’ Industrial Technology Advisory Board continues to develop programs and provide guidance to support students like TJ looking at manufacturing as a future career path. Through continued guidance and participating with students in welding competitions as well as providing new computers, software, and the necessary equipment to develop a true understanding of the industry, the board hopes to foster a stronger future for Clarke students and the community as a whole.

“This has been a really exciting experience for me,” said Woods of his time with the internship. “Clarke and Altec have given me the opportunity learn skills that will impact me for a lifetime.”

For more information about Clarke’s Industrial Technology programs or to learn more about the Industrial Technology Advisory Board, please contact Instructor, David Lyden at [email protected], or call the Clarke Schools administration offices at (641) 342-4969

This article was first published on http://clarkecountylife.com.