I want to shine a spotlight on something I think is awesome. That is that many high schools around the United States have begun teaching kids to work metal. This isn’t my shop class in high school where we built bird houses or a bench. These classes are showing kids and training them how to weld, shape, and build some pretty awesome things with metal from the ground up.
One program in particular is Arlington High School in Arlington Oregon. The program is run by Alan Cumminham. The HonkerShop as they fondly refer to it relies mostly on donations from local business. Other businesses have joined the fold as well. The likes of Trick Tools, Pro-Tools, V-tech, and most recently TorchMate. Their school year goes something like this.
At the beginning of the school year they finalize a design for their chassis with Bend-Tech Pro bending software. This allows them to make tweaks to the chassis before they even bend the first tube. Mr. Cummingham has stated that since they have been using Bend- Tech the amount of wasted material has diminished to almost nothing. The kids follow the print outs from the software for each part and everything goes together just like it should.
Once the design is done, then its on to the fun stuff. Bending some tube for the chassis. They are utilizing the Pro Model 105 tube bender and the HMP-200 hydraulic bender to handle all their bending needs. I believe a picture here is worth more than a few words.
As you can see these kids love what they are doing. And personally I think this beats a birdhouse any day. But I digress. Once the tubes are finished its weld time. These young adults are spared no expense with the knowledge imparted to them during this 7th period class. Learning not only the right way to do things but also all the safety protocols with each skill they learn.
From here it is on to suspension, wheels and tires, electrical and so on. The only part of the process that is sent out is the frame for paint. The kids are intimately involved in making every piece of the vehicle. A part from the skills they learn, its the fire it sets inside them when they are done.
They are the next generation of metal fabricators. Learning the skills the way we did. This is what I love so much about this story. These kids will go on and who knows, may become their generations next Chip Foose or Lazze Janssen. They leave with the fire in them and their passion to guide them. There are many examples of this all over the united states. There is an afterschool program in D.C. that build an EPV vechicle and took on MIT, Stanford, & Princeton on a college level competition and placed 3rd. The more skills we give our children, the better the future will be for them and our country. Lets bring back “MADE IN THE USA” and help leave future generation with a brighter future.
For photos of the complete build and current projects please visit the HonkerShop.