U-46 Precision Manufacturing

  • School District U-46 offers a state of the art Precision Manufacturing program at South Elgin High School. Students from ALL U-46 high schools (and D301) can access the program through intradistrict busing.


    Click the image to learn more!

    machine tools


    Precision Manufacturing features a three-course sequence:

    Introduction to Precision Manufacturing

    (DC) Precision Manufacturing

    Advanced Precision Manufacturing

    Students can earn college credit in this sequence and a National Institute of Metalworking Skills(NIMS) Certification.


    Speak with your counselor to learn more and prepare for course registration. 


    The Precision Manufacturing Program was recently filmed for a case study by the Autodesk Corporation. This video showcases the program and the amazing technology that students have access to.


  • CNC Lathe

    As the world of manufacturing changes and evolves, so must our educational institutions and training grounds. Here at School District U-46, we are not only keeping pace with those changes but offering a clear pathway to post-secondary careers. Our precision manufacturing classes teach 21st-century technical skills alongside timeless ones — like cultivating a strong work ethic and taking pride in craft — that prepare students to succeed in today’s workplace. 

    In the district’s precision manufacturing classes at South Elgin High School, students get hands-on training in precision measurement and learn how to operate lathe, milling and grinding machines. There is an emphasis on designing a production process and CNC education, which prepares students for the computer numerical control systems that are prevalent in today’s clean, modern world of manufacturing. 

    The classes require problem solvers and those who excel in math. Some students juggle their advanced manufacturing courses with high-level math courses such as AP calculus. 

    Students often work for local companies such as Wittenstein, a German-based precision manufacturer whose North American headquarters in Bartlett has offered U-46 students internships and scholarships. The internships give students even more hands-on work experience, emphasizing that this is no longer simply a career where one stands in front of a machine, according to Dr. Lars Aldinger, the executive vice president of production and logistics. 

    South Elgin High School teacher Russ Bartz requires students to maintain a weekly journal of what they’ve learned. The journal promotes writing skills and discipline, the sort of critical life and work skills that will keep students employed in the future. 

    Streamwood High School Teacher Matt Erbach points out that his lesson for figuring out the correct depth of a countersink is right out of trigonometry class, but its real-life application helps students engage and remember the content. 

    U-46 students can earn college credit and test their proficiency through the National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS), a standards group whose rigorous, comprehensive accreditation program represents an important seal of approval within the manufacturing industry. U-46 is currently seeking district-wide accreditation for its precision manufacturing program through NIMS. 

    Eric Smith, the director of human resources for Hoffer Plastics in South Elgin, is also a member of the NIMS advisory council. The district’s class offerings, Smith notes, dovetail with what his company seeks in new employees — people with a sound educational foundation who want to continue to learn in the working world.


What people are saying about PM

  • “We use our Precision Manufacturing Advisory Committee to make sure that our instruction is relevant to the working world. Manufacturing and engineering courses are offered in many other school districts. However, U-46 offers an unusually high number and variety of courses.” 

    Matt Erbach, teacher, South Elgin High School

    “To me, (these classes) are a big deal. It makes me want to come to school. I just like starting my day with a challenge. I like coming to school and using my brain and making something cool.’’

    Ryan Rompel, junior at South Elgin High School

    “The skill set taught in the U-46 program translates perfectly into our tool room. We don’t need someone to push a button. Robots do that. We need someone who can work with the robots.”

    Eric Smith, director of Human Resources, Hoffer Plastics Corp., South Elgin

    “We need people that have a basic knowledge of metal, but who also have computer skills. When you combine them, there is an excellent result.”

    Dr. Lars Aldinger, executive VP of production and logistics, Wittenstein's North American HQ in Bartlett