Norfolk Junior High partners with Nucor Detailing Center

Norfolk Junior High proudly partners with Nucor Detailing Center
to encourage career education opportunities for students.

Norfolk Junior High School is excited to be one of five area partner schools working with Nucor Detailing Center (NDC) to implement the Developing Youth Talent Initiative (DYTI) Grant they received last week.  This $125,000 grant, awarded last Friday (6/23/18) by Governor Pete Ricketts, supports efforts to create partnerships between local businesses and area public schools in order to engage 7th and 8th grade students in manufacturing and information technology career exploration programs.  

According to the website article about the DYTI grant recipients, found on the Office of Governor Pete Ricketts webpage, “The Developing Youth Talent Initiative is preparing young people across Nebraska for great-paying opportunities in our state’s manufacturing and IT industries,” said Governor Ricketts.  “At the same time, Nebraska’s job creators are connecting with the highly-skilled, highly-trained workforce they are working to recruit. Congratulations to this year’s grant winners, Nucor Detailing Center and Reinke Manufacturing, and a special thank you to our parents and teachers, who are helping educate our youth and grow Nebraska’s future.”  The Governor launched DYTI in 2015 in response to a growing nationwide demand for manufacturing and IT professionals with technical and problem-solving skills.  Under the program, in-state manufacturing and IT businesses collaborate with local public schools to create and implement engaging, hands-on middle school curricula to promote interest and cultivate basic skills relevant to workforce needs.

One of the goals defined in the DYTI grant application submitted by Nucor Detailing Center is to provide each partnering school access to design software and age-appropriate manufacturing equipment through a 3 hour Nucor-led presentation of design and fabrication each year, with the intent to introduce 100% of 7th and 8th grade students to manufacturing and drafting careers.   Students will design a project on a computer and then send their piece to be manufactured on equipment such as 3D printers, laser cutters, vinyl cutters, CNC machines and embroidery machines. This hands-on access will replicate the design-to-fabrication work flow involved in manufacturing. By the end of the first school year, approximately 1000 7th/8th grade students in northeast Nebraska will be introduced to manufacturing and design career possibilities.

As the school with the highest student population, Norfolk Junior High will house a permanent in-house makerspace, allowing ongoing access to the manufacturing hardware.  The additional four partner schools will share a mobile traveling unit. An additional mobile traveling unit will be kept at NDC and be used for teacher training, overflow needs for partner schools when needed, and other aspects of the project.  

NDC is committed to providing teacher training sessions prior to implementation and also ongoing training for new and veteran teachers in future years.  The traveling mobile units and permanent space at Norfolk Junior High are currently being located/designed and will be fully ready by the start of school (August 16).
Included in the grant proposal, NDC and the five partner schools, addressed plans for sustainability after the first year. NDC has pledged close to 1000 teammate hours for the first year and is committed to continuing that level of involvement in following years to achieve the goals of the program.  The partner schools have each pledged a commitment to teacher training and looking for creative and innovative ways to include the equipment during instruction time and after school programming.

In a letter of support for the project, Mrs. Jennifer Robinson, principal at Norfolk Junior High, told the grant committee, “The technical equipment would allow new opportunities for project-based learning while reinforcing real work and world applications. The introduction of these technologies assists in preparing students for integrated career skills and leadership skills.  Learning how to use this equipment in a creative way would connect and engage students thus allowing them opportunities to gain knowledge for their future careers.”

Mr. Austin Casselberry, director of Aftershock, an afterschool program for grades 5-8 at NPS, said “It is a win for our students because it offers unique opportunities to explore science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  Access to this technology is typically limited to youth in families of higher socioeconomic status, which can be severely limited to youth growing up in a lower income family.  A majority of our school district’s population qualifies for free/reduced lunch, and equitable opportunities like this make tremendous strides to closing opportunities gaps for our youth.  Nucor Detailing Center’s continuous dedication to connecting students to manufacturing and IT industries, closing opportunities gaps, and strengthening their relationship with area schools is inspiring.”

In northeast Nebraska, Nucor is the largest employer of drafters with over 170 located in Norfolk.  NDC is one of four Nucor facilities in Norfolk (1 drafting and 3 manufacturing), and has grown from 13 teammates in 2006 to over 130 teammates today.  Employing over 1300 teammates through these four locations puts Nucor in a unique position to help schools generate student interest in both manufacturing and IT careers. Nucor’s mission statement mandates that it be  “good cultural stewards in the communities in which we work and live.” Norfolk Public Schools is truly thankful for Nucor’s ongoing support in our school district, and excited to implement these opportunities for industry-led career exploration at Norfolk  Junior High.