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$32,000 grant helps H-F purchase class equipment

Homewood-Flossmoor High School’s Applied Academics Program received a $32,000 grant from the Technology and Manufacturing Association (TMA) Education Foundation for a new piece of equipment.
The grant covered the cost of the HAAS Mini Mill CNC Machine. Teacher Bill Merchantz has designed the new Computer Integrated Manufacturing class, which starts this fall. Students in the class will use the new equipment. 
This is the second HAAS machine in the Applied Academics area and will be in place for the start of the 2018-19 school year. H-F’s current HAAS machine was purchased with state grant money.
Leigh Coglianese, manager of training and education at TMA, said H-F was one of 15 schools applying for grants. It was the first TMA award for H-F.
“We look to make sure (the winners) have a manufacturing advisory board, that the equipment they are looking to purchase with the grant money is relevant and will be utilized appropriately,” she said.
Conglianese said TMA also considered what manufacturing programs the winning schools participate in. At H-F, students have gone to the TMA Precision Machining Competition and the Automated Manufacturing Technology Competition at Skills USA held in Springfield. 
The computer numerical control (CNC) machine allows students to develop computer code that program’s the machine to cut parts at a high level of accuracy and is able to repeat the task numerous times. 
Merchantz said with the machine students can make parts in five minutes using as many as 10,000 lines of computer code. Using a traditional Bridgeport mill to do the same task by hand could take as long as 12 to 15 hours.
“We’re able to cut parts with very, very high accuracy,” he said and different shapes, such as curves, can be produced easily. Programming the computer is based on math principles of using coordinates X, Y and Z. 
District 233 installed its first HAAS mini mill in February and students learned the capabilities of the machine by designing shapes and parts. Merchantz said the students who represented H-F at the Skills USA competition in April prepared for the event by using the machine.
The H-F team of Liam Hughes, CAD designer; Jacob Nye, CAM programmer; and Nicholas Mayden, machine operator, won third place in the state automated manufacturing competition. They were given a set of industry prints and four hours to recreate them, create all the tool paths and produce a part for the judges.
At H-F, Merchantz has developed an advisory board, including representatives from Do-Rite Die and Engineering, Solvay Chemical and Prater Industries. 

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