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GBHS students go to work
GBHS Senior Michael Espinosa works on his next project, having completed three SD camera card holders for journalism classes.

Great Bend High School’s yearbook teacher had a problem: How to organize all of the SD Memory Cards from digital cameras used by the students.

USD 428’s IT director needed awards for an upcoming 5K for the Heartland Center.

Technology instructor Jake Hofflinger’s teacher aides, Michael Espinosa and Nolan Barton, were asked to create products that would meet the needs of both clients.

Hofflinger explained that students in the Manufacturing Production Pathway take classes such as Production Blueprint Reading, Advanced Production Blueprint Reading, Mass Production and Mass Production II. 

Successful completion of the courses gives students enough skills to begin working with clients.

SD holder

Secure Digital (SD) cards measure 32 by 24 millimeters and are commonly used to store photos and other digital content that is later uploaded to a computer. The cards are so compact that they can easily be lost or damaged. Espinosa met with his client, yearbook teacher Andy Negaard, to design and manufacture a rack that would hold the cards.

“Michael used dial calipers and CorelDraw software to design a prototype,” Hofflinger said. “After making some changes and getting final approval from the client, he used the Versa Laser to cut acrylic sheets and laminate them together to form the final project. Michael made three of them and they are now in use in the yearbook room. The acrylic used for this project was donated by Quality Glass. Their small pieces are perfect for our laser projects and we really appreciate Quality Glass for helping us out.”

Espinosa said he entered the Manufacturing Pathway his freshman year.

“When I was in the 8th grade, we came to the high school for the class fair. The first thing that caught my eye was the manufacturing curriculum,” he said. “For me to be able to make anything thing I could imagine with a few pieces of plastic and glue, that blew my mind.”

His freshman year, the manufacturing class built a scale model house, but more exciting projects were yet to come.

“We vacuum-formed plaques, recycled trash and made it into something useful, and much more. I like the idea of keeping the Earth clean and making something people would find useful. I think all the projects I was part of also helped me learn life skills,” He said.

“How to make practical uses from random materials, knowing how to make a shelter/home with blueprints, etc. All of that is something that everyone should learn and use,” Espinosa said.

“But with great projects, come great obstacles. No matter what I was doing, whether it was cutting foam board or programming the laser printer, something went wrong. Cut too much, start over. Cut too little, cut again and risk cutting too much. Simple tasks became painstaking projects. But after so much error, I knew success was bound to come my way. No matter how long it took, the outcome was well worth it,” he said.

“I want to use the skills I’ve learned in the future, during my everyday life,” he said. “Spending my time in this class was worth every minute.”

Nolan Barton

Espinosa isn’t the only one of Hofflinger’s teacher’s aides who turned course lessons to a practical use.

Nolan Barton recently concluded a project for the Heartland Center. In this case, his client was USD 428’s IT director, Ryan Axman, who was looking for someone to help with a project for the Heartland Center with which he was involved. Axman needed awards for a 5-K race in September.

“Nolan worked with Ryan to make design changes. After obtaining final approval, he spent three weeks making 77 wooden awards,” Hofflinger said.

Axman said he was very pleased with the results. 

“It was just like working with someone from a business,” he said.

“Nolan completed the Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) pathway,” Espinosa said. Its courses include Introduction to Engineering Design and Principles of Engineering.

Other student projects include hallway signs and room numbers for the schools, teacher name tags for high school mailboxes, organizer trays for drafting equipment, extrude dies for the ceramics class, stencils for the GBHS electric car and safety signs for the metal shop.

Additional reporting by Jennifer Schartz, Great Bend USD 428.