The Drafting Department at Diman Regional Technical High School is proud of some recent news. One of their student teams won gold in the Automated Manufacturing competition at the SkillsUSA Massachusetts, moving on to compete in the national competition. Mitch Sweet, Drafting Department Head, has been leading the department for 23 years. He joined as a teacher soon after graduating from Diman himself. We spoke with Mitch about how his students get engaged by bringing to life their CAD creations.
Evolving the program with industry trends
Technology has changed many industries over the years, and Diman’s Drafting Department has evolved along with them. When Mitch started teaching a couple of decades ago, freshmen were drafting on boards, and computer software use didn’t begin until sophomore year. As technology became more prevalent in the industry, the classroom adopted SolidWorks for all class levels. A couple of years ago, Mitch recognized the industry shift to additive manufacturing. So he added 3D printing to the curriculum to extend their CAD work.
Tangible experiences for students
The Drafting Department at Diman has multiple 3D printers. The freshmen use MakerBots, allowing them to print their designs quickly and walk out of class with a physical item they’ve created. Upperclassmen use advanced printers, like the Stratasys F170 and Objet260 Connex 3, to create realistic parts.
Students have been so excited by what they’ve learned in the class that they use their break time to design and print their ideas! Students have created a Halloween mask and replicated a Star Wars helmet.
The Drafting Department also supports other departments. Students come up with drawings that the machine, metal, and carpentry shops build.
Connecting students to the workforce
The goal of Diman’s Drafting Department is to prepare students to continue their studies in college engineering programs and place them in internships in a related field. The school provides opportunities for students to connect to the workforce through a co-op program for juniors and seniors. And the Drafting Department brings students on job site visits once or twice a year.
For new CTE instructors transitioning into teaching after working in the industry, as Mitch did at the beginning of his career, Mitch emphasizes the value of industry experience they bring to the classroom, along with an open mind and willingness to adapt. As the industry changes, so does the classroom.