In 2010, Stiles Machinery donated a used Heian router model NC 131P to East Kentwood High School in Kentwood, Mich., to introduce the concept of CAD/CAM to help educate and prepare the next generation of woodworkers. The students have been using the router to create their own designs on everything from plaques to stools to skateboards.
Almost 50 students are currently in the woodshop program. Olga Niyibizi, a senior at East Kentwood, demonstrated her knowledge and skills on the machine for other students, explaining how she wrote three different lines of code for her Camp Blodgett plaques that she’ll use for the youth program she leads during the summer.
“Olga will be going to St. Mary’s College of Engineering next fall,” technology teacher Randy Smith said in a statement. “She’s a leader with robotics here at the school, too. This kind of exposure to CNC and CAD software will give our students an advantage before they even get to college, or the work force.”
Brandon Douglas, another student, has plans to attend Ferris State University in the fall and become a plastics engineer. He commented on several failed attempts of a skateboard design at first, but now is much more comfortable with the programming aspect. Douglas says he was grateful for the early exposure to this level of technology to prepare him for his college career.
Stiles has also donated a dovetailing machine to the school, which will be adopted into wood shop curriculum next year and will initially be used to construct frames.
“The woodworking industry has changed dramatically over the past 20 years,” vice president of marketing and communications Stephan Waltman said in a statement. “The industry is already experiencing a shortage of well-trained, knowledgeable CNC machine operators and software engineers. We all have a responsibility to strengthen the future of our industry and begin educating our young people earlier about the technology that will allow us to compete globally.”