Tech courses getting upgrade

At the encouragement of a local manufacturer, Seymour High School is planning to update its courses to give students more exposure to robotics and science, technology, engineering and mathematics curriculum.

Beginning this fall, the school will offer Computer Integrated Manufacturing as part of its Project Lead the Way program.

“We are committed to providing students the prerequisites making them competitive in multiple fields to be college and career ready,” Principal Greg Prange said.

He and Assistant Principal Kate DuBois requested approval of the course during last month’s school board meeting.

The proposal is in response to the need for workers in the community with skills and experience in using robotics and a background in STEM.

“Valeo has approached us with a vision and need for their future employees,” Prange said of the automotive lighting manufacturer in the Freeman Field Industrial Park in Seymour. “Additionally, Indiana Hot Jobs lists multiple manufacturing and engineering jobs as areas of employment for our students.”

DuBois said the corporation as a whole is doing more to get students interested in robotics before they even get to the high school.

“The elementary schools are growing robotics programs as feeder programs,” she said.

Currently, Margaret R. Brown and Seymour-Jackson elementary schools offer competitive robotics clubs. So do area parochial schools, including Immanuel Lutheran and St. Ambrose Catholic schools.

DuBois said she expects similar programs will be offered at Cortland, Emerson and Seymour-Redding elementary schools in the future.

Although Seymour High School has a robotics club, DuBois said the school is interested in doing more in the classroom.

“Developing a career-related course provides students the opportunity for work readiness and career exploration within the field of robotics,” she said.

Computer Integrated Manufacturing applies principles of rapid prototyping, robotics and automation, building upon computer solid modeling skills developed in Introduction of Engineering Design.

According to the course description, students will use computer-controlled rapid prototyping and CNC equipment to solve problems by constructing actual models of their three-dimensional designs. Students will be introduced to the fundamentals of robotics and how it is used in an automated manufacturing environment.

Students who successfully complete the course can earn both high school and college credits.

The course will cost the school around $36,000 for equipment and teacher training. Current staff will be utilized to teach the course.

Possible funding sources include the existing Owl Manufacturing program, Valeo and other local manufacturers and the state, which will reimburse the school $450 per student enrolled in the course.