Meet the Teacher with a Bold Idea about Manufacturing Education

Wisconsin high school turns its manufacturing program into a student-run business. See film about the program followed by live Q&A with teacher and students. Originally titled 'High School Turns its Manufacturing Program into a Student-Run Business'

Craig Cegielski, a high school teacher who leads one of the most innovative manufacturing education programs in the country, is appearing in IMTS’s Advanced Manufacturing Center (Booth W-160) Monday starting at 3 p.m.

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Craig Cegielski, a high school teacher who leads one of the most innovative manufacturing education programs in the country, is appearing in IMTS’s Advanced Manufacturing Center (Booth W-160) Monday starting at 3 p.m. See and speak with him and some of his students during a presentation that includes a film about the program and time for audience questions.

Cegielski teaches at Eleva-Strum High School in Strum, Wisconsin. His idea for how to improve the school’s manufacturing program was ingeniously simple: Make it a business.

Today, the Eleva-Strum junior- and senior-level machining and welding technology program has become “Cardinal Manufacturing”—a job shop run by students. Instead of make-work projects, the students spend their time doing real commercial work for paying customers, and facing real-world quality and delivery requirements.

The program is thriving. Income from the paying work enables this program to keep its equipment well-tooled and well-maintained, while also paying profit-sharing bonuses to students. Local employers excited about the program have expanded the shop’s range of equipment with donations, with one manufacturer in the area (MRS Machining of Augusta, Wisconsin) donating two CNC machine tools. In addition, manufacturing is now an appealing, high-profile course of study in this school. Students are filtered through an interview process for the chance to join.

Most importantly, the exposure to commercial manufacturing gives these students an authentic and relevant manufacturing education. Graduates of Cardinal Manufacturing enter the workforce possessing not just technical skills, but also a familiarity with the demands, discipline and pacing of a production environment.

Monday’s presentation includes a video about Cardinal Manufacturing that features commentary from a parent, students and school officials. Cegielski and students of the program then will answer audience questions. The same presentation will be repeated on Tuesday—check Booth W-160 for the time. 

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