Partnership between Caterpillar and Manual High School provides hands-on experience, career opportunities

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMDB) — Manual High School students participated in a three day Rapid Improvement Workshop with Caterpillar employees to improve the layout of their welding classroom.

It’s part of the Caterpillar E4Life Program that exposes students to the manufacturing field. Students learn technical manufacturing skills such as welding, painting, and assembly.

“Really what we’re doing is taking a really good facility, really good program and really making it a really great program,” said Andrew Rice, the welding, manufacturing and engineering teacher at Manual High School.

Students created two blueprints – one of the existing classroom layout and a proposed one.

“We just kind of aligned everything where the room flows better,” said Rice. “I wanted to create an environment that the students can come in and with 40, 45 minutes they can go right where they need to go, they can get right to work.”

Jameer Walters, a senior at Manual High School, said his favorite part about welding class is being able to create things and then see them showcased at school.

“That really means a lot to us, to know that we have an area at our school where we can go and look back at all the old one-of-a-kind pieces that we created,” Walters said.

This is the second Rapid Improvement Workshop he has taken part in. Walters said he will pursue welding as a future career.

“It’s a very big possibility. With this here helping us now, it is an easier opportunity to know what you’re doing after high school so you can be able to go to school to learn more off of what you already know,” he said.

After graduation, Rice said students have the opportunity to either work full-time at Caterpillar, or go to Illinois Central College part-time with an internship at Caterpillar.

“They really get their feet wet here, and they hone and learn their skills,” said Rice. “I have my college-bound students, I have my students that want to go right out in the workforce. This whole environment caters to both of them.”


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