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Streamwood and South Elgin High Schools earn National metalworking accreditation

STREAMWOOD/SOUTH ELGIN– The precision manufacturing programs at Streamwood and South Elgin High School earned national accreditation for the exceptional metalwork training offered to students. Such high-level training and accreditation ensures students are better prepared to succeed in the workforce, according to the National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS), the group that recently awarded the programs with their seal of approval. 

“The staff and faculty of both schools, and of School District U-46, have met NIMS standards and will continue to set the bar for exceptional metalworking training,” NIMS Director of Accreditation Catherine Ross said. “In earning accreditation, both high schools demonstrate a continued commitment to providing industry-level training within the state of Illinois and for the greater U.S. Manufacturing Industry.” 

It is the first time that the programs have been accredited by NIMS, which offers the only nationally-recognized accreditation for excellence in metalworking training based on industry standards. The two U-46 schools are only the fourth and fifth schools in Illinois whose machining programs have been recognized by NIMS. Nationally, only about 75 programs have been accredited. 

Earlier this fall, NIMS inspectors interviewed faculty and students as well as local employers who hire students who have completed the precision manufacturing programs. NIMS also inspected metalworking facilities at the schools and issued ratings in areas like administrative support, program purpose, equipment and instructional staff. 

“As a district we embrace the concept of program improvement through evaluation,” said Kinasha Brown, U-46 Coordinator of Career and Technical Education. “This allows us to offer the Precision Manufacturing students learning and preparatory experiences that result in true career readiness.” 

By working with NIMS, School District U-46 ensures that its programs are meeting national standards, and the ongoing relationship will help the district make sure its programming and support remain current with industry innovations, said Ron Raglin, U-46 Assistant Superintendent for Education Support Programs and Alignment. 

“Ultimately, the winner is School District U-46 students and their families,” Raglin said. 

In the district’s precision manufacturing classes, 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, the computer numerical control systems that are prevalent in today’s clean, modern world of manufacturing. 

“Manufacturing is no longer a career where you just stand in front of a machine,” said Dr. Lars Aldinger, the executive vice president of production and logistics for Wittenstein, a German–based precision manufacturer whose North American headquarters in Bartlett has offered internships and a scholarship program to U-46 students. 

The courses challenge students to use a variety of skills. South Elgin High School Teacher Russ Bartz said his manufacturing students must maintain a weekly journal of what they’ve learned. It promotes writing ability and discipline – important life skills. Bartz tells his students it is how they “earn their paycheck.” 

At Streamwood, teacher Matt Erbach said his lesson for figuring out the correct depth of a countersink is right out of trigonometry class. 

“But the fact that it is applied to a real project they are producing helps students to engage with what could otherwise be a pretty boring piece of math,” Erbach said. 

U-46 students can earn college credit and also earn individual certification through NIMS. 

The school program accreditation is based on NIMS national level machining skills standards with an emphasis on computer controlled milling and turning operations; job planning, bench work, layout and measurement, materials and safety. The designation is valid for a five-year period. 

The district’s website features a page on the Precision Manufacturing program.