Armwood HS equipped with new manufacturing lab

Helping train for high-demand, high-paying jobs
Posted at 5:37 PM, Dec 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-06 17:45:18-05

Hillsborough county is seeing a huge surge in manufacturing. The only problem is that there are not enough skilled workers to fill available jobs. That's why there's a new push to get high schoolers trained in the field.

From basic tool work to advanced computer machining, students at Armwood High School in Seffner are learning the ropes of manufacturing in the district's first and only machining lab, made possible through county grants.

"In class, you're just getting the material. But with this, doing it, physically, and working with the machines, it makes it better in your head because you're fully able to do it," said student Deshawn Washington.

This class is also opening eyes to new career opportunities.

"So many industries, so many companies in this Tampa Bay area right now are just begging for people to come into this profession," said Michael Rendas, Armwood High School machine shop instructor.

Rendas spent his career in manufacturing and is now leading the next generation in the classroom, hoping to spark interest in students to fill those high-demand, high-paying jobs.

"Even if they don't go straight into the manufacturing and fabrication industry, they're going to take a lot of these skills with them," said Rendas.

The classes are part of a four-year program with students earning a professional-level certification upon completion. 

Adam Bell wants to be"game changer," by inventing and shaping machines for the military and he'll now have an advantage.

"I won't completely be clueless when I go to college for it, and I actually will know what I'm doing and have something to build up off of," said Bell.

Ray Hutchins says learning the tools of the trade in high school helps shape his future, designing and creating things with 3D modeling.

"It's like holding my thoughts in my hand.  And my mind's blown already thinking about it, seriously!" said Hutchins.

And it gets even better.  Local companies are already calling excited to hire these talented students when they finish the program.