Metal Fabulous

The finished product!

The finished product!


There are sparks flying at AHS — the mechanics shop, full to the brim with a wide array of gadgets and tools, is led by the exceptional and skillful Mike Titus. Teaching since 1969, he has declared his plans for retirement at the end of this year. This will be a great loss, and we as a school must look to the phenomenal accomplishments that he has contributed.

One major accomplishment was the revamping of the mechanics center, benefiting classes such as Metal Fabrications.  There are a wide variety of machines, from surplus dating from World War II to recent additions.  One of the more recent machines is the computer numerical control (CNC) plasma cutter.  It had been sitting in a large corner of the room for a couple years until Titus and a few skilled professionals were able to program the CNC plasma cutter to be easily used by students. The plasma cutter allows a student to put in a predesigned blueprint of the necessary cutout of flat metal and the machine does the rest. The CNC has allowed students to make metal

The finished product!

boxes into skillful designs. As Jeremiah Svaren said,  “if you can draw it, the CNC can make it.” It is an amazing opportunity for those at the high school. Not only for the mechanically inclined but it an opportunity for those who don’t often take their noises out of text books or paintbrushes form canvases to take advantage of, and learn a useful and fun skill. The computer numerical control machine is only one of the awe-inspiring devices: there is even a forge a few steps away from the CNC where the ring of hammering metal still sounds like it did hundreds of years ago in the time of classical Greece. Such instruction is given by a skilled local professional blacksmith Dennis DeBey who takes time out of his day to teach Ashland students in the ancient methods of forging. Kiah Toth spoke to how “it is amazing to make things out of what used to be a block of blank steel,” this was said over the clanging noise of Hoku Eggertsen and DeBey hammering in turn, forming hot metal into a heart shaped coat hanger, the common beginning project in forging.  On the other side of the room a group of kids sat along a row of welding nozzles all with welding masks on. This is surveyed over by Peter Grossmann, another community member choosing to use his time to teach Ashland students. His specialty in the Metal Fabrication class is welding, and he was one of the people proficient in programming the CNC plasma cutter, allowing it to be easily accessible to students. All students in this class are able to receive, over the course, hours of individual attention and instruction in a range of expertise.

Under such a bloc of skilled and outstanding instructors, the students of AHS have pushed to new heights with their project of fundraising:  selling red receiver hitches for cars with grizzly paws and an “A” in the center. These are being made by such machines as the CNC plasma cutter and then welded by students to the rest of the hitch. They will be sold for $30 to $35 (for either a small or large), and so are available for most cars.  There is also an option for custom lettering or numbering, for example, the common order of custom hitches are going to be made with a “K” for the beloved Coach Kitchell, which will be sold for $60. All funds are being put towards this fantastic program at the Ashland High School. With the ongoing crushing budget cuts there is a need for more funding in such areas as Metal Fabrications. This class is a commonly over looked class and is becoming more popular as students understand the real world aspects of metal fabrication. The CNC plasma cutter is used from cutting parts for buildings to the car assembly line. The knowledge of how to use one can be easily implemented compared to a major in Music or Fine Art, there are many who can write sonnets and might have been useful in tenth century Baghdad, yet in the modern era one can easily find work with the knowledge of how a CNC plasma cutter works or even with the skill of welding. The skill of welding is always in high demand; such welding careers as hyperbaric welding (welding at elevated pressures, usually underwater) easily gain a six-digit salary a year. This is a well-paying profession, as well as being a productive and honorable one. Many hyperbaric welders fix such things as oil tankers and ships, and in so doing, perform useful tasks in the world. Metal Fabrication is a class that allows students to gain knowledge of a skill set that they can use in the future life, to help continue this substantial focus of learning, one should order a Grizzly Hitch from the Metal Fabrications class. To donate by buying receiver hitches is to further the learning of useful trades and skill of students in an economy that there are many jobs open to it  but is not necessarily funded  by state.

Want to explore metal fabrication some more? Check out these photos!


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