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Small scale project hints at larger things to come

Small scale project hints at larger things to come

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Chipola College welding instructor Cody Baxter took on a special project recently for the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce.

The organization needed something special to give the businesses that helped sponsor, and attended, the group’s annual banquet. Rather than spending its money on the usual beautiful but temporary table decorations, like flowers, the Chamber aimed for something more lasting. Its leadership looked to Chipola College for a partner in that quest.

Connecting with the Chipola Workforce and Economic Development division wasn’t difficult: Division Dean Darwin Gilmore and the Chamber worked closely together already, and pretty soon the Chamber was introduced to Baxter, an instructor in the school’s seven-year-old welding program, and with instructor Scott Phelps, who is over the school’s new construction technology program. The first students enrolled in the inaugural year of that study course are soon to graduate, along with fellow current students in the welding division. Their labs are side-by-side at Chipola.

But ahead of that big day taking place in just a few days, they were able to see some of their handiwork on display at the Chamber banquet.

The construction technology students built the wooden bases for business-name plates that were designed and cut out by Baxter in the welding lab. Students in his program also got some tips on design from their instructor as he put ideas together for it.

The name plates were given to the representatives of each business after they were showcased on the tables at the banquet.

That small project speaks of larger possibilities for the welding and construction students in the future. Gilmore hinted at that this week chatting a press conference held to celebrate a $1.7 million grant that will help them both grow and, likely, work more closely together.

Although stressing that all the particulars have not yet been inked as to how the money will be used, the money could help the construction side expand from mostly teaching residential-focused building techniques to also include commercial building skills, where welding then comes into much larger play than in residential construction projects.

And that, should it come to pass, could mean many more opportunities for the separate programs to work in unison to ground students on a larger and more well-rounded scale.

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