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Valley Program Aims to get Kids Interested in Computer Technology

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The class meets every day for two and a half hours The class meets every day for two and a half hours
Andrei Dacko Andrei Dacko
The class offers practical and marketable skills to students The class offers practical and marketable skills to students
FISHERSVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

A brand-new program at Valley Career and Technical Center in Fishersville is already gaining interest in the local manufacturing industry.

The program could lead to kids being employed straight out of high school, or even helping them to start their own businesses.

This CIM-Fab Lab is filled with art, inspirational quotes, and some pretty high-tech gadgets.

“It makes you want to get involved with making things,” Andrei Dacko, a learner experience designer, said.

These 11th and 12th graders are taking advantage of the lab and are enrolled in Computer-Integrated Manufacturing at Valley Career and Technical Center.

Simply put, students are learning how to use computers to make things.

Cody Gray, who’s a junior at Wilson High School, says this class gets him out from behind a desk.

“This is, like, the best class I've taken, all the time,” Gray said. “Like, this is what I look forward to on a daily basis.”

The class meets for two and a half hours every day.

“Constantly hit with problems needing to be solved and complications and different things that you thought were gonna work and it's just constantly working your brain,” Gray said.

Gray designs parts digitally and then watches as they come alive.

“Robotics and automation as well as fabrication, which includes, again, using computers to operate machines like mills and routers,” Dacko said.

Dacko spent a year designing the program and he says the need for the digital skill set that marries computing with making is massive on both the local and national levels.

“Whether it be a small job shop that is making custom parts and components for a customer, or a large manufacturing facility that uses similar computer-controlled machinery to help produce parts on their production line,” Dacko said.

Local manufacturing companies are already knocking on the door.

“Students have only been here for four months and we're already getting calls from employers asking and looking at opportunities to engage our students, whether it be through apprenticeships or part-time and full-time positions so the need is there and we look forward to filling it,” Dacko said.

According to Dacko, the Computer-Integrated Manufacturing program is expensive to run and he says he'd like to see some of the local manufacturing companies help to keep it going.

Dacko also says he'd like to see a diverse classroom that better represents the community, with more students taking advantage of the program.

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