Workman Middle School gets We Build It Better design program

If there’s a LEGO-obsessed kid at JH Workman High School who dreams of becoming an engineer, machine technician or aircraft mechanic and would rather tinker with an engine than bend over a manual, then their dream is about to come true. to come true.

Florida Power & Light Co. recently awarded JH Workman Middle School a $50,000 STEM classroom makeover grant.

School administrators will use about half of the grant to renovate JH Workman Middle School’s technology education classroom, turning it into a “Center for Invention and Innovation.”

The rest of the grant has been allocated to a new STEM program that will be taught in the renovated space.

Aviation Maintenance Academy students Caleb Pereira, 17, left, and Bella Minshe, 18, practice safety techniques on an aero engine Thursday at Booker T. Washington High School.  A new STEM program from JH Workman Middle School, We Build It Better, will serve as a feeding program to lead students through the Aviation Maintenance Academy and then into maintenance careers later in life.

The STEM program, called We Build It Better, was developed by Flight Works Alabama and aims to teach middle school students the basics of industrial design and equip them with mechanical skills they can apply in the real world.

Since the program was created by Flight Works, some of its projects and presentations will incorporate aviation concepts, according to Steven Harrell, director of workforce training for the Escambia County School District.

“So the beauty of being at Workman is that the school is within walking distance of (Booker T.) Washington High School and is one of Washington High School’s feeder schools,” Harrell said.

Booker T. Washington High School already has its own aviation technology program, and Workman Middle School’s new program will now have the potential to create a pipeline of future aviation mechanics.

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The new program means it’s now possible for students who start learning the basics of industrial technology in Workman Middle School’s We Build It Better program to then choose to join Booker T’s aviation program. Washington High School.

Eventually, these same students could become professional aircraft mechanics, helping to increase the workforce of one of the region’s fastest growing industries: aviation mechanics and maintenance. .

“We have an aviation technology program in Washington. They work on aircraft engines and learn the mechanics of flight, and you know, it’s all things like setting rivets and joining composite materials, systems electric planes,” Harrell said. “But you can’t do all of those things if you can’t swing a hammer and use a tape measure and use a micrometer and things like that first.

“So college is this exploratory time, … so you can focus more on that when you get to high school, and then you focus even more on post-secondary at George Stone,” he continued.

On Thursday, 17-year-old Maverick Matair works on an Aviation Maintenance Academy safety wire trainer at Booker T. Washington High School.  A new STEM program from JH Workman Middle School, We Build It Better, will serve as a feeding program to lead students through the Aviation Maintenance Academy and then into maintenance careers later in life.

George Stone Technical College’s Aviation Airframe Mechanics program prepares students for employment in the commercial and general aviation industry, according to its website. Depending on the college, the professional field has an annual salary range of $51,000 to $82,000, with the average in Pensacola being around $56,000.

Harrell said he has long been looking for a way to bring the We Build It Better program to the Escambia County School District, and the FPL grant has now made it a reality.

What is the STEM Classroom Renovation Grant?

Workman Middle School was one of five Florida schools to receive a STEM classroom renovation grant from FPL this year as part of a larger company commitment.

FPL has pledged to donate $2 million over the next four years to increase Black student exposure to STEM education and rekindle interest in STEM-related careers.

Pamela Rauch, vice president of external affairs and economic development for FPL, commented on the company’s mission in a written statement.

“Our STEM Classroom Renovation Grant allows us to invest in our next generation to help provide transformational learning opportunities for Black students in a STEM classroom,” Rauch said in the release. “We are thrilled to have these projects as one of the first as we complete our first year of implementing this grant, which allows us to support both educators and students, our next generation of leaders.”

All of the recipient schools that received the classroom renovation grants were made up of at least 25% black students.

Harrell said the classroom renovations at Workman Middle School are expected to be completed over the summer and the program should be operational as early as fall 2022.

The We Build It Better program will not be limited to aviation

Approximately 25 students will be able to participate in the program.

Flight Works Alabama will provide a toolbox filled with industrial-grade tools and provide specialized training for the Workman Middle School teacher selected to lead the program.

Additionally, Harrell noted that students will learn STEM skills that can be applied to many different careers, not just aeronautical design-focused fields.

“The STEM program developed by Flight Works Alabama engages students early in the technical side of the design process and equips them with foundational skills for aircraft manufacturing,” Harrell said. “But it also teaches kids skills like precision measurement, how to use a vernier caliper and a micrometer, a torque wrench and things like that. They do everything from learn to read a tape measure and swing a hammer up to printing things with a 3D printer.”

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He added that students could easily transfer these STEM skills “into skilled trades like HVAC or plumbing, construction, whatever later in life, but they’re going to have these practical skills in addition to design skills. “.

As part of the program, students will be encouraged to design their own industrial product, solve predefined challenges on their way to creating their product, and eventually print their product using a 3D printer.

“A year from now, anyone who comes back to see the results of this program on our students will be surprised at how much they’ve learned,” Harrell said.

Colin Warren-Hicks can be reached at or 850-435-8680.

Abdul J. Gaspar