CHAMPAIGN — For the whole thing of his time within the Champaign college district, Joe Meyer has taught courses, together with welding and engineering design, the place his college students designed and constructed constructions in a cramped, dimly lit store at Central Excessive College that didn’t have trendy air flow programs.
Centennial college students have been introduced over by bus, that means he needed to wait 10 minutes after the bell rang to start out class.
In courses that rely closely on hands-on work, college students shared eight welding stations with cubicles made out of sheet steel. Automotive courses had all the scholars crowded round one automobile.
This yr, that each one modified. As a part of the $183.4 million amenities referendum accepted by voters in 2016, Meyer and his fellow store lecturers have stepped into brand-new amenities with much more open area and gleaming new gear at Centennial. Comparable retailers are at present being constructed at Central.
“To be easy about it, we’re going to have one of the best store amenities on this a part of the state, from what I’ve seen,” Meyer stated.
Among the many points of interest of his new facility, every welding station has its personal air flow system. For the automotive class, two automobiles can sit within the storage. New computer-numerical-control gear — automated machining instruments that permit designs created on a pc to return to life — fills a wooden store that has a brand-new dust-extraction system.
Already, much more college students are ready to slot in the brand new area, and when every highschool has one, much more will be capable to take store courses, and sophistication will likely be much better for those that do.
“You’re actually simply attempting to apply,” Meyer stated. “It’s costly to purchase a welding machine and apply at residence on a regular basis. So my No. 1 purpose is to let children apply welding underneath my tutelage. So we’ll be capable to let twice as many children apply directly within the welding cubicles. I feel that’s a serious factor.
“We’ll have twice as many automobiles in there. As an alternative of getting 16 children standing round one automobile, we’ll have 16 children engaged on two automobiles. So, growing our youngsters capability to get their palms on issues and never simply standing on the periphery.”
Meyer, a former civil engineer, has been a instructor for greater than a decade. He was writing his dissertation for his Ph.D. in engineering training 11 years in the past when it dawned on him that he didn’t merely wish to train and analysis about educating highschool children — he really wished to show them.
He first took a task educating physics and science at Paxton-Buckley-Loda. Two years later, he noticed a posting for the Champaign district’s technical store class, a job that match his pursuits in engineering and educating much more completely.
“They took an opportunity and employed me, and I can’t persuade myself to go away,” Meyer stated. “I find it irresistible.
“It’s cool, as a result of as a substitute of educating it in a physics room and educating engineering from a guide, we design stuff and construct it.”
After all, Meyer hasn’t been capable of train his class in a traditional method this yr. At most, 5 or 6 children attend in individual, which is especially tough for courses that depend on apply with costly gear.
“We’re educating children kinesthetic actions,” Meyer stated. “You’ll be able to solely coach a lot soccer over Zoom. It’s the identical factor. We’re educating children to maneuver their our bodies, the right technique to make one thing prove proper.”
When the brand new retailers do refill, first at Centennial after which at Central, Meyer is worked up to see this system develop in a method that merely wasn’t doable when he began on the college 9 years in the past.
When the referendum handed, “I simply thought, ‘Gosh, I hope that they put some sources towards increasing our program,’” Meyer stated. “That was my very first intestine thought. ‘I hope they acknowledge the worth of our program and put some sources towards that.’ And so they did that.”