When competition season rolls around, the students in the manufacturing career cluster at Waxahachie High School will have some exciting projects to present thanks to a significantly larger facility and more innovative technology.

In the new shop, booths line a wall, which operates as welding stations. These booths were previously located at the agriculture shop at the former Ninth Grade Academy. The shop is also equipped with a garage, roll-up door for exterior access.

“It’s a little bit wider and twice as tall so you can get a little bit bigger of equipment in here. And really, how the shop is laid out, it is better than before. It was a long, narrow shop and now it’s open to where we can come straight in,” said Chase Wilson, the WHS welding instructor.

The rest of the shop is designed to work on large projects. Last year welding students constructed a smoker trailer and the year before the students built a 40-foot hay trailer. So, the adequately sized shop is ideal. This year, the welding students will construct a mobile kitchen trailer for the culinary arts students.

“We’ve (He and Joel Skipper) talked about it for two years, and he wants a competition-styled trailer that has a smoker on it, stovetop and all kinds of cooking equipment on it. Hopefully, we can get that in the works,” Wilson said.

Students spend the majority of their time in the shop, regardless of the weather outside, so heaters were installed to ensure a comfortable education could take place year-round. The classroom attached to the shop is also significantly larger and additional storage in the upper level is accessible by a ladder or lift.

The most substantial advancement is the CNC machine. At the former campus, the students worked with a plasma cutter.

“This helps you get things done faster. There are things we can do by hand, cutting them out but it would take way longer. And plus, this is way more precise to cut out signs or to cut out shapes,” Wilson elaborated.

This will be the third year for Wilson with his students and he is also a Waxahachie graduate himself. He said the experience of moving into the new facility has been “pretty cool.”

When he reconciled to new set up of the shop and the industrial CNC machine, Wilson agreed the career cluster is advancing considerably.

“I think we are advancing every year getting new technology or machines,” he said. “I do all kinds of continuing education where I go and learn more about what I do and what they are doing in the industry as well and try to apply it to the class.”

Wilson elaborated on how the career cluster is popular with seven classes between two school days. Each one of his classes is set to capacity as well. A sizeable amount of students will have the opportunity to work with the equipment and prepare them for their careers.

Wilson did relay that people from the community sometimes come to the shop if they a reasonable amount of welding done. If an individual has a small task that can be completed by a welding student, email Wilson at cwilson@wisd.org.

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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450