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  ArtWicle Supplied by Lynn Gorman Communications
arren Helgeson began his teaching career as any instructor might. After graduating, he earned a position as an Industrial Arts
teacher in a public school system. He worked there for over 25 years, teaching manufacturing technology to countless middle school students. But when an unconventional position came open in a nearby system, Helgeson considered a change. “I saw an opportunity to move into a high school setting, but it was a very unique setting. It’s in a correctional facility for youth offenders,” he said. New Bridge High School in the Three Rivers School District provides structured education for the attendees of Rogue Valley Youth Correctional Facility, run by the Oregon Youth Authority. Here, young men from high school age up to 24 years-old, are offered GED certifications, high school diplomas, individualized education programs, and career training certificates. The offered certificates
include barbering, culinary arts, library sciences, welding, and construction.
The new Manufacturing Technology lab within New Bridge High School, built in 2016, is outfitted with a Laguna Swift gantry style CNC machine and a 3D printer. The connected computer laboratory boasts 12 stations with Mastercam CAD/CAM software, furnished by certified Reseller, Northwest Technical Products, Inc. (Port Orchard, WA). Helgeson teaches CAD programming in the Applied Technology lab and the application of machining concepts with woodworking projects. Most of the students only attend New Bridge for three or four months – not enough time to fully prepare them for a programming or operating career. Nor do all the young men have an inclination to go into CNC machining after graduation. That’s no problem for Helgeson, though. He said that his goal as a teacher is not getting his students through a course; it’s rewiring their brain. His focus is on instilling all kinds of life skills with his students. “It’s multi-level skill development. We want to get these students either ready to engage in community college or go into the working world,” Helgeson explained.
One of the most crucial skills for any successful adult is problem-solving, in his opinion. To teach that, he knew he needed the perfect tool. He found the solution in his CAD/CAM software. “Teaching Mastercam is a great way to teach problem solving, and I think that’s the most transferable skill for moving into any occupation,” he said. “They’re provided with a set of tools and a goal, and they have to figure out which tool to use to do each operation. Later in life, they’ll be presented with a different set of tools and different goals, but the process is the same.” The program encourages students to be critical thinkers
CNC WEST April/May 2021
Warren Helgeson has been teaching at New Bridge’s Manufacturing Technology Lab since its opening in 2016.

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