Mr. Dakota Bockenhauer, the Technical Education teacher at Potosi High School, recently received a $50,000 grant from the Department of Workforce Development (DWD).
During the 2020 spring season, Tammy Cooley, the Pupil Services Director, saw a grant opportunity for high school tech ed departments. She gave Mr. Bockenhauer all the information he needed to write a grant application. The grant application had to be about what machines the shop would benefit the most from, with a description of how they would be used to help the students, school, and community. “This grant is offered every year, but last year was a great year to apply because of our matching funds through the shop referendum,” Mr. Bockenhauer said. Then, in the summer of 2020, the DWD decided they would give Mr. Bockenhauer and the Potosi shop $50,000. The whole purpose of the DWD is to “train middle and high school students in advanced manufacturing fields, many of which have quality job openings,” according to DWD.
“This grant will help prepare students for careers in technology and manufacturing through the use of computer numerical controlled systems. The majority of technology and manufacturing now uses these machines and programming to complete building processes. The experiences gained from these machines will translate across the industry, making students more ready and marketable in the workforce,” said Mr. Bockenhauer. The Potosi shop bought a CNC router, two 3D printers, a vinyl cutter, a laser engraver, a robotic maker’s arm, and three robotic training arms with the $50,000. These machines impact four classes that Mr. Bockenhauer offers: Advanced Shop, Engineering Design, Project Management, and Robotics.
Students may not see these machines yet, but they will in the near future. Mr. Bockenhauer has three years to order everything with this money. “The grant is currently under review for an amendment I made to the grant due to the pricing changes that have happened since I composed the grant. As soon as that is approved, we will be ordering and setting up equipment. I hope to have these machines in place (with the help of the students) by the start of next semester. Then there will be more documentation and statistics gathered through the next three years as we implement the new machines.” As a student, this is very exciting, as I hope that I will be able to see these machines be put together and run for the very first time. Potosi Shop has not seen anything like this ever, so this is really exciting.
While these machines make the manufacturing process more efficient and up to date, there is more to shop classes than just making products. The process before the build is what many people don’t realize. Mr. Bockenhauer told me, “I would recommend a shop class to anyone. You don’t need to be thinking about a career in technology or manufacturing to utilize these new machines. These machines teach students more about creativity, problem solving, and soft skills than they ever do about technology.” You can use these skills at home, in your everyday life, and in your community. Examples of how the planning skills from Mr. Bockenhauer’s classes have benefited the local community include building the Adirondack chairs for the school, the wooden deer and Christmas decorations that are displayed throughout the villages, and custom metal signs.
For me, Mr. Bockenhauer’s influence and classes have sparked my interest in continuing my education at the local vocational school and eventually becoming a plumber. I have taken four classes in the shop (Robotics, Woods, Metals, and Advanced Shop) and still have more in my class schedule for next semester. He is a big reason why I want to go into a technical career. I like working with my hands, using quick math skills, and defeating challenges that the projects throw me is why I like it.
“A big thank you to Tammy Cooley for reviewing the grant proposal, and the rest of the administration team for their support in this grant,” Mr. Bockenhauer said. All in all, these machines will positively impact the students of Potosi for many years to come.