‘Hands-on’ learning gives Miller students insight into industrial arts careers

T-R PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY Miller Middle School eighth grader Wesley Hofert, wearing mask, works a simulated welding machine at the school Wednesday under the guidance of John Deere Co. welder Jovani Rubio of the company’s Davenport Works.

There is learning that can be gained through listening and then there is learning by doing.

On Wednesday, dozens of Miller Middle School (MMS) seventh and eighth graders had an opportunity to learn by doing courtesy of virtual reality applications and five John Deere Co. employees.

The group had expertise in crafts from information technology to moving heavy equipment to welding.

Welder Jovani Rubio of the company’s Davenport Works was one.

His job was to show students how to weld a straight line using a welding simulator.

Students strapped on a welder-style virtual reality mask, took hold of a welder, and did their best to trace a straight, narrow, computer-generated line, imitating a real-life weld.

“Today’s program is going great,” Rubio said. “All the students are here, they are learning and enjoying it. The welding demonstration is hands on compared to listening.”

Rubio has worked for the company for two and a half years.

Eighth grader Wesley Hofert was the first to put on a welder’s mask and try his hand at welding a straight line while Rubio looked on and offered advice.

After nearly 15 minutes on the simulator Hofert earned praise from Rubio.

Hofert said he had relatives who weld, so he was somewhat familiar with the process.

Other skill-sets offered by John Deere attracted students to other virtual-reality simulators.

Students also got to take the virtual reigns of heavy excavation equipment, guiding

the machinery through a series of tasks while trying to avoid doing any damage to

the equipment.

Virtual reality goggles showed the students different scenarios in which such heavy

equipment could be used.

Information technology specialist Dan Rodriquez told the students his work had taken him not only to United States locations, but to John Deere operations in Argentina and China.

Rubio told the solid mix of female and male students that his work is high-technology – using lasers and robots.

Another John Deere welder encouraged female students to seriously consider the profession.

“The women welders at John Deere are very proficient and make a good wage and benefits,” he said. “Starting pay is $19.96 an hour. They know how to follow directions, which makes them better than some of the men. Some of us guys don’t like to follow directions but just dig into the work.”

MMS counselor Rachel Meckley said the school worked to get all of the eighth grade students into Wednesday’s program which consisted of six 40-minute sessions.

“The eighth graders will be in high school next year and will be thinking about career plans,” she said. “We were able to get 99.9 percent of them into this today and many seventh graders.”

On Tuesday, the John Deere team had spent all day working with and talking about career opportunities with Marshalltown High School students.

John Deere is a manufacturer of agricultural, construction, forestry and lawn care equipment.

Founded in 1837, it employs thousands worldwide and is headquartered in Moline, Ill.


Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or mdonahey@timesrepublican.com


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