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ROCKWOOD — Rockwood Area School District’s superintendent, Mark Bower, and Engineering and Technology teacher, Joseph Kush, recently invited the Foundation and local business owners to tour the school’s Tech Ed department and STEM labs to check out all that the department has to offer. Students work with high-tech equipment on a variety of projects that include coding, laser-cutting, 3D printing, and welding. Most importantly, students develop skills in problem solving, design, and group work.

Last fall, the Foundation awarded Rockwood Area High School a grant to support the purchase of second table saw for its STEM program. Rockwood’s Engineering and Technology courses serve about 220 students in grades 7-12, with more than 100 students using the table saw on a typical day. With only one table saw, students previously lost precious work time while waiting for their turn at the saw. The new table saw has nearly doubled productivity and ensures accurate, comfortable, and safe work.

“If our lab was a human body, the table saw is the heart,” said Kush. “Nearly all materials, no matter what the project is, must be cut to a specific width.”

The grant request was not only for a new table saw, but a safe one.

“The SawStop table saw is the safest table saw available for student use. It uses technology that is comparable to a touch lamp. If a finger happens to come into contact with the blade, a brake stops the spinning blade,” Kush explained, holding up a used blade and its worn brake pad to show how the SawStop table saw has already prevented injury.

With the addition of new machines and tools, Rockwood’s STEM program is preparing its students with skills and experience to meet the demands of local industry. Local business owners commended Kush for instilling the skills of teamwork and design, and for his dedication to the program is he looks toward continued growth.

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