Middle School Manufacturing Students Earn Certifications

Ethan Heilweil and Peter Letterie are leading the way for students in Okaloosa County.  At Pryor Middle School there is a class of 8th graders who are learning how to be creative in the 21st century.  These students are the first of a new class that is teaching students 3-D design and these two students are the first to receive industry certifications for their work.

Students are learning to create, modify, and assemble virtual parts that they have created.  Curt Palermo, the instructor for this new class said, “This is like the rebirth of art class.  Students can create anything they can think of in the program.  I have students design anything from skateboards to working models of pistons and crankshafts.”  Students can actually print the objects they design using the 3D Printer in the classroom.  “Student not only get to create on the computer but they get to physically touch the object. This really helps with the students who are more tactile learners.”

Students are given the chance to receive an industry certification for mechanical design using the 3D Design program Solidworks.  Solidworks is a popular program used by businesses to prototype and build parts.  “This certification makes them marketable the second they step out into the workforce and gives them a head start if they want to work towards an engineering degree,” said Palermo.  “It’s not about just getting students into college, it’s about giving them as many options as possible and letting them choose what they want.  It’s absolutely amazing what these students can do once they learn to use the software!”

This is the first year of the class, but Palermo expects the program to grow and for students to get even more opportunities as they move to high school and beyond. “This is just the tip of the iceberg,” stated Palermo.  “Students will continue to amaze us with what they can do with this program.  I expect great things from the manufacturing program in the years to come.”