PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Taconic High School manufacturing students will now have an easier time pursuing careers thanks to the Gene Haas Foundation.
The Haas Foundation is granting the program $10,000 to provide scholarships to graduates. The foundation was started with a $20 million donation by the owner of Haas Automation, a company that builds manufacturing machines.
"We make anything that makes something else. If it cuts metal, wood, plastic, glass, ceramic, our machines can handle it. Our machines are used very widely in the workforce, which is perfect for schools. It gives schools the ability to teach what an actual shop environment is," said sales advocate Dylan Phelps.
Phelps said the foundation awards scholarships to schools or to individuals each year. The company also provides discounts to schools that purchase equipment and has even helped with consulting for the program's needs for the new Taconic High School. The international company's focus is to help build the workforce needed to grow manufacturing.
"We do a lot with schools and that is solely to train the workforce. As you know, manufacturing has been coming back in a big way and with all of the money we are putting in schools, we are trying to build back a workforce that is getting up there in age," he said.
The foundation provides between $10,000 and $12,000 to schools and between $2,000 and $5,000 to individuals each year in scholarships. This year, machine tech teacher Mark Lausier applied on behalf of Taconic's program.
"What the scholarship is used for is very limited. It can be used for scholarships for students that are entering either a manufacturing or engineering program. It can also be used for teacher professional development and student credentials. Basically, everything that is involved with the field of manufacturing and it gives students the opportunity to receive a scholarship to perhaps a school they might have considered attending because they couldn't afford the tuition," Lausier said.
Phelps dropped off the check on Wednesday and Lausier said the department will now develop a criteria and application process for the students to receive scholarships from that account.
"The scholarships are mainly for the students who will go to some sort of postgraduate program. We'd be talking about the senior class and I have about eight in my senior class right now," Lausier said.
Taconic has been using Haas machines since 2006 and Lausier said he has been very happy with the products. He said he's asked the project managers and school administrators to purchase more for the new Taconic High School when that opens.
"We have requested that we use Haas equipment because they are the most user-friendly equipment for the students compared to any other CNC control out there," Lausier said.
Lausier is not only looking to continue working with Haas for equipment but also plans to apply again for scholarships once this grant runs out.
"The nice thing about it is I can keep applying for this every year and perhaps be awarded it on a yearly basis," he said.
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