Computer-Aided Design still recovering from fire damage

Della Johnson | Staff Writer

Once considered one of the most hands-on courses at Mason High School, Computer-Aided Design (CAD) has taken a few steps back since last year’s fire.

The accident, which occured on May 8, 2018, because of the dust collecter in the B108 CAD room, caused an evacuation of the entire student body and faculty. Since then, the machine has remained broken. Without the dust collector, using other machinery is unsafe. It is used to draw in waste and dust that would otherwise fill the room when it is not working, and students could inhale much of it. CAD teacher George Elias said the loss of the dust collector has halted labs in the classroom, and that teachers have to outsource their projects.

“When the machine isn’t working properly were not able to have lab at all at that point,” Elias said. “Instead, we assign more curriculum and projects that we had outsourced and sent away to get cut.”

Another way students apply their knowledge in class is through design programs on their computers. Senior Ben Harpen said that, originally, what they designed would be sent to the machine to be constructed, but now the process ends after design.

“There’s a program called VCarve, and we make vectors on it,” Harpen said. “Then we can send those vectors and the toolpaths on them to the machine, then the machine cuts out whatever we made on the program. Now all we do is sit at computers. We just make the projects, we don’t cut them out.”

Even with the other assignments, the class flow is undeniably changed. Senior Amanda Wells said that often times, the class ends up going by quickly, and students have more free time.

“Most of the time we just have free time,” Wells said. “We can get our projects done quickly in advance. We don’t have to do anything for them. We literally just program them and then print them out. Since we can’t make them, there’s nothing really else to do. It’s pretty much a study hall.”

Wells said, if the machines were working properly, students taking the class could learn more about the machines and how to use them.

“If the machine was working, we could be using our time a lot more productively,” Wells said. “We could be learning new things about what’s in the lab, and learn how to use the other machines. But, since it’s not functioning, we really don’t have the ability to do that.”

The prolonged time without the machine has caused many students to wonder when it will be repaired. Mason Chief of Operations Todd Petrey said the design process actually takes quite a while, factoring in all of the research required. “

The fire actually destroyed the entire dust collector,” Petrey said. “Therefore a new dust collector had to be designed. When we get into designing something such as a dust collector, we take into account the current machines being used and also machines that might be used in the future. We want a dust collector that will perform well over the next two decades. There is a considerable amount of research that is done by engineers and architects.”

Without a functioning dust collecter, heavy machinery like the (from left) Computer Numeric Control machine and radial arm saw are currently off-limits.

Petrey said that the look in comparison to the high school is something that need to be taken into consideration when placing a new machine. This is so the intended building aesthetic continues.

“You’re able to see the dust collector from the parking lot,” Petrey said. “Due to the fact we have a beautiful high school we want to make sure that the dust collector is properly hidden behind some type of fence for aesthetics and safety purposes.”

An important reason for taking this class is to learn aspects of utilizing manufacturing machines, such as Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine. Harpen said that he and his fellow classmates will have more trouble receiving certification now.

“We’re supposed to be getting CNC machine certified,” Harpen said. “When we’re certified, we can go get a job at a CNC workplace, and stuff like that. Since we can’t really use the lab, it will be hard to do that.”