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Opening of training center  breaks a bad news cycle - Woodshop News

Opening of training center  breaks a bad news cycle

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Tod Riggio

Tod Riggio

It’s been a depressing couple of months ... devastating hurricanes, rampant wildfires, a massacre in Las Vegas, losing Tom Petty, and the straw that broke my camel’s back, the United States’ failure to qualify for the World Cup.

I don’t know about you, but I could sure use a dose of feel good news.

So I call your attention to the opening of Manufacturing Industry Learning Lab (MILL) in Colorado Springs, Colo. Our Jennifer Hicks traveled to the grand opening in October and is busy crafting a thorough report for the December issue, including interviews with faculty, students and industry representatives. This is an extremely positive development for an industry struggling to find the next generation of workers.

MILL will offer training classes in wood manufacturing, cabinet finishing and construction to high school students, as well as to colleges, military and industry personnel.

Seeds for the training center were sewn in 2015, when Peyton School District superintendent Tim Kistler hired Dean Mattson to teach woodworking manufacturing classes. The Widefield School District and its superintendent, Scott Campbell, got involved in a partnership to create the Peyton/Widefield Vocational Education Campus, a 46,000-sq.-ft. building near the Colorado Springs Airport. Soon after, Stiles Machinery brought in truckloads of equipment, and other donations were received from over 60 industry partners.

MILL will offer training classes in wood manufacturing, cabinet finishing and construction to high school students, as well as to colleges, military and industry personnel.

Mattson is the guiding force, largely responsible for creating the curriculum and motivating the industry to go all in. He’s done something like this before, helping to create the Career Technical Education Center, a 125,000-sq.-ft. facility in Salem, Ore.

He describes the program’s overall goal on the MILL website (themillco.org): “We are producing high school students who are taught the necessary principles of life. They are placed in real-life manufacturing scenarios where they are forced to think critically. And we try to model for them how to be gracious human beings. They are ready for the job market or the university.”

Mattson further explains the program is based on four elements – professionalism, achievement, relevance and connection – that together create a safe zone for students in the classroom. He believes that students are more likely to be successful when they feel safe and welcome, and when learning becomes meaningful to them.

There’s much more to say about the program and, like I said, you can read all about it in the next issue. But for now, know there’s something good happening for the industry and the youth of America.

This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue.

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