The new Brunnen Inn High School brings an advanced manufacturing and engineering program to Upstate. The school’s Institute of Automation and Engineering will house essential technology for students to complete STEM-related program pathways during their high school years.
Greenville County Schools Career Tech Education executive director Eric Williams said there was a big stereotype about backcountry manufacturing jobs. He wants to show the students that this particular path can have a solid career.
“There is a need for a student workforce pipeline and for many reasons we haven’t met that need,” said Williams. “But we want to tear down some walls and show the students that automation and engineering can be an incredibly productive and future-oriented professional field.”
Students have the option to choose from a variety of courses and pathways, including pre-engineering, integrated manufacturing, mechatronic integrated technology, and computer science. Technologies such as 3D printers, CNC machines and CAD software enable students to learn in a hands-on manner alongside an advanced curriculum.
The facility will focus on educating students so they can start their careers right after high school. Offering special training for students will help meet the high demand for manufacturing and engineering professions in the hinterland. Upon completing any of the themed trails, students will have the skills necessary for industry certifications and better opportunities for higher education.
“I want my students to develop problem-solving skills and think outside the box. My students will do their own learning, I’m there to help and facilitate, but they will take the lead. ”- Teresa Curvin, Mechatronics Teacher
In the past, Greenville County students took off-campus courses at career centers for this specific STEM education. Williams said this particular program was unique in the backcountry in that students would take classes and gain advanced experience without leaving their high school.
Williams has many goals for the Institute of Automation and Engineering, including expanding opportunities for students through connections with more companies.
“In 10 years I would expect the school to have more business and industrial connections, more highly qualified teachers who are passionate and [the school] will be full of students learning and getting opportunities to take part in real-life activities, ”said Williams.
Teresa Curvin, mechatronics teacher, is excited about the opportunity to build the program.
“It’s a rare opportunity for teachers to be on the first floor of a new school,” said Curvin. “There are so many exciting opportunities to build new programs and work with new employees.”
Curvin is ready to teach her students more than just engineering knowledge. She hopes to teach them skills that they can apply no matter where they end up.
“I want my students to have the skills to solve problems and think outside the box,” said Curvin. “My students will carry their own learning, I am there to help and facilitate, but they will take the lead.”
Fountain Inn Mayor GP McLeer is thrilled that the high school will be back at Fountain Inn. He hopes the new institute will keep these students interested in staying at the Fountain Inn and helping the city’s businesses.
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“We’re surrounded by great companies, big and small – industry and manufacturers – that all need strong workforces,” said McLeer. “We believe this will not only help fill some of these jobs, but will also help ensure that students stay home after graduation and continue to make the Fountain Inn their home.”
Going forward, McLeer hopes these Fountain Inn High School graduates will be able to learn, lead, and find a future right in their hometown.
“I will [students] to have a great education, have a great job, and have a great place to leave a long legacy for them and their children, ”said McLeer.