Editor’s note: This story is part of Map to the Middle Class, a Hechinger Report series looking at the good middle-class jobs of the future and how schools are preparing young people for them.
RANDOLPH CIRCLE, Vt. — With vertical mills, lathes and flat screen monitors at their disposal, members of Vermont Technical College’s Fabrication Club are hard at work in Morrill Hall.
This story also appeared in VTDigger
Jacob Walker is stationed at a Dell computer working on a 3-D design for what will be a decorative stainless-steel maple leaf. To get from design to actual product involves using advanced computer software plus a waterjet, a traditional manufacturing machine.
Walker, 19, is in the school’s two-year mechanical engineering program, a first step on the road to study manufacturing in the college’s new bachelor’s degree program. “You can learn to build something, but the manufacturing behind it to be able to produce it, I think that’s very important to have an understanding of how it works,” he says.
The students at Vermont Tech aren’t preparing to build products through physically demanding factory work as much as they are studying to up their technical skills. Manufacturing undergrads take classes in calculus, 3-D printing and a slew of other specialized subjects.
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