Five St. Clair High School students will explore high-tech, innovative manufacturing through a pilot program that partners with East Central College and utilizes the college’s state-of-the-art equipment.

The SCHS students are enrolled in courses through Project Lead The Way (PLTW) — a national, non-profit organization that provides computer science, engineering and biomedical science instructional programs.

The St. Clair R-XIII School District expanded its PLTW offering this fall by partnering with the college to use its precision machining lab in ECC’s Business and Industry Center.

The students are using the equipment for a new engineering course, Computer Integrated Manufacturing.

In addition to the hands-on learning in the ECC lab, the five students — Austin Hellebusch, Logan Hunter-Cockrum, Sebastion Vitt, Wyatt Strothcamp and Cody Ross — will also earn college credit hours upon course completion. 

“I am extremely excited about the opportunity our partnership with ECC is providing our students,” said Melissa Husereau, Director of Teaching and Learning with the St. Clair School District.

“This collaboration gives St. Clair students hands-on experiences while studying manufacturing planning, integration and implementation of automation while learning the technical skills needed to be successful in the workforce.”

On Aug. 31, the students and their instructor, Maurice Gritzman, held their first class at ECC. They were welcomed to campus by Vice President of Academic Affairs Robyn Walter, Dr. Richard Hudanick, dean of career and technical education; and Director of Early College Programs Megen Strubberg.

According to Strubberg, this is a great partnership for the students, St. Clair District and the college.

“Pairing incredibly talented PLTW students with state-of-the-art equipment on ECC’s campus allows students to work with equipment and technology resources not currently available at their high school,” Strubberg said. “Students in the program will also be eligible to earn dual credit that can be used toward a certificate or degree program at ECC, upon high school graduation.”

PLTW empowers students to develop and apply in-demand, transportable skills by exploring real-world challenges through computer science, engineering and biomedical science.

The students learn technical and problem solving skills utilizing critical thinking and creativity.

PLTW also provides training, resources and support for elementary, middle school and high school teachers.

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