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A machine to cut metal and mold minds

A machine to cut metal and mold minds

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POSTED January 20, 2017 2:02 p.m.

Raising money can sometimes be difficult. Raising $31,000 might seem impossible to some but to Zach Woodworth, it’s a goal that is not far out of reach.
Woodworth is trying to help raise money for a Torchmate 4800 CNC machine for the Shullsburg High School. To use the machine, students will use a computer to design a project or a part on a computer program, then take that file and put it on a jump drive and put it into the machine. The machine renders the design and cuts it out exactly as it was designed in the metal.
“In all the welding classes, we don’t have anything to cut metal sheets big enough to run beads and practice welding,” Woodworth commented.
 “This will help expand the curriculum and try to provide exposure to students who may want to go into engineering. It just adds to it,” Agriculture teacher, Jennifer Russell added.
Russell stated that the school has a limited budget for supplies and hopes to sell projects made on the CNC machine to offset costs and help fun things in the shop.
“We are trying to buy industry equipment for students to learn and it comes at a high price tag,” Russell said.
Woodworth has been able to raise $21,000 of the $31,000 needed for the machine. The goal would have been met if the company still made the machine they planned on getting. Last year about this time, Russell worked with a company to get a quote and in the time it took Woodworth to raise the money, they no longer made the machine. But the new machine the company designed will actually work in the schools favor.
“It is an evolving industry. It is really better for the school. Instead of having individualized pieces it is all in one,” Russell explained.
Woodworth had priced out a plasma cutter and computer to run with the machine but this new machine come with a computer, plasma cutter and water table all in one and it is easier for either Russell or students to be able to fix if there is any problems.
About this time last year, Woodworth decided to take on this project as his own. He sent out letters to 60 businesses that have an agricultural interest and received some replies. Russell stated that she hopes this machine will revitalize the program.
Russell affirmed, “I hope the projects made can help pay for more projects and improvements in the shop and get more equipment and encourage more kids to go into these fields. Not trying to push them in but show them what options there are by giving them exposure.”
Woodworth really enjoys this line of work. He always has liked farming, 4-H and FFA. When he was 11, he began welding with his grandpa. Woodworth is also a part of a supervised agricultural experience program or SAE where he welds projects and custom art. He recently received a grant for $1,000 from the National FFA to purchase more equipment for building his business.
With this project of raising the money for the CNC machine, Russell feels it was great for a student like Zach to take the lead and do all the work and get real life experience.
“Zach is a great kid and kids like Zach don’t come along very often that have the initiative and drive. I hope to use Zach’s initiative and drive to get some more kids interested and say, well if he can do it maybe I can do something similar,” Russell complimented.
Both Woodworth and Russell are excited about getting the machine and getting things started.
“It speaks a lot about what happens in this community that we are able to put this machine in and keep moving forward.”

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