Integrated Learning


Traditional education organizes learning in silos, which isolate the subject matter. It moves students from subject to subject and year to year with little regard for competency. As a result, students become bored and under perform. But at the Manchester School of Technology, Manchester, N.H., students are learning under a new paradigm that integrates the presentation of concepts with hands-on practice.

TrainingEd0413_FFJ_1For example, a student in the residential carpentry program will learn algebra and the Pythagorean theorem and immediately put that knowledge to use.

“When a student has to use the Pythagorean theorem and they have to make a staircase or put a roof on a house—we build a home every year—it becomes relevant,” says Karen White, the school’s principal. “They’re a lot more interested in learning because they know they’re going to have to use it in their life.”

Since opening in 1982,MST has offered career programs to juniors and seniors at seven area high schools. Students attend these schools for academics, and then spend 100 minutes each day at MST for Career and Tech Education (CTE). A four-year program launched last fall, dubbed MST 2.0, it is the only school approved by the state’s board of education to combine academics and CTE.

On the academic side, students cannot move forward until they have an 80 percent mastery level. MST sets the bar even higher for its 18 technical programs.

“In our CTE programs students must have a 90 percent mastery in order to be successful,” saysWhite.

MST students control their own individualized learning plans and track their own progress. They understand why they are in a class, see exactly what they need to learn and understand that they are becoming proficient in core competencies according to a plan of their own design. Students also work at their own pace.

Manufacturing Technology
In the manufacturing technology program, first-year students learn basic skills in electrical circuits, pneumatics, precision measurement, CAD, SolidWorks, 3-D printing and robotics. Second-year students spend more time in the lab, which includes three welding booths, a permanent TIG welding and plasma cutting station and two portable welding tables. It also includes a band saw, drill
press, press brake, shear, lathe and CNC milling machine.

“We try to get them focused on core skills in the classroom so when they come into the shop they’re more knowledgeable on different technologies and can better apply them in school and community projects,” says instructor Dan Cassidy, who leads the manufacturing technology program.

Until 2012, the school’s cutting and welding equipment mostly consisted of one unit for each process. However, a chance encounter changed that.While attending the Manufacturing Leadership Council’s eighth annual leadership summit, Cassidy struck up a conversation with Terry Moody, Victor Technologies’ Executive Vice President of Global Operations.

Ultimately,Victor Technologies worked with Cassidy to create an economical but comprehensive equipment package for the MST program centered on its Fabricator 211i and 252i three-in-one welders. Ideally suited for the MST curriculum, the welders easily switch from stick to TIG to MIG and permit students to choose which welding processes they want to learn.

“Even for an old-school person like myself, the technology inside the three-in-one makes welding simple,” says Cassidy. Cassidy emphasizes that projects provide real applications for students. “The students not only did the duct work [for ventilating the TIG welding/plasma cutting station], they also designed the welding booth, the welding table and all the implements around it to support all the welding processes,” he says.

The students also assembled the Victor Technologies equipment when it arrived. This included the cart/cylinder rack for the welders, as well as the cable and hose connections. “If we train young people to understand how processes work, we’ll have a better prepared U.S. workforce,” Cassidy says.

Students appreciate learning in MST’s relevant, competency-based manner. “It’s a very different environment,” says Carlos Raymundo, a senior in the manufacturing technology program currently learning to TIG weld with a Thermal Arc inverter. “It’s very motivating for me, and I keep very focused.”