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School gets real for Ozaukee High tech-ed students PDF Print E-mail
Written by DAVE BOEHLER   
Wednesday, 20 December 2017 19:01

Teacher, students create Oz Metal and Fabrication to learn business ropes

    George Moench wants to be a welder.
    So the sophomore at Ozaukee High School is doing something about it. He belongs to Oz Metal and Fabrication, a student-run business recently started by teacher James Peter.
    “It’s enjoyable to weld and to know you can make your own projects,” Moench said. “This is just leading me up to my future career. I think this is going to help drastically. Because when I first started out welding, I was godawful. But now I’m actually getting way better because I’m taking my time practicing at the school. It’s very helpful and teaches me new things every single day.”
    Peter is in his second year as a technology education instructor at the Northern Ozaukee schools. He heard some other high schools had student manufacturing businesses, which Peter compares to an after-school club, so he started his in October.
    “Basically, with starting a business, the goal is to be able to make the learning experience more authentic for the students,” Peter said. “They’re working on real problems for real companies, and it’s a much better learning experience than just reading about it on a worksheet or in a textbook.
    “We concentrate on metals. We are going to repair or manufacture or fabricate whatever our local businesses or local community members want or need. Basically, for businesses, we’re there to kind of help support them because we’re willing to do the jobs that are too small or not profitable for them, yet their customers want or need it done. We’ll really do pretty much what anyone will bring us.”
    Nine high school students joined, and the group is already on its third project. The first was water hose holders that a teacher’s aide wanted. With the profits, they’ve been able to purchase four new welding helmets.
    The next — which it is still working on — is for Grafton’s Moraine Environmental. The business does drilling and environmental work, so the students are resurfacing augers for their equipment.
    Peter and the students are also building a large funnel for an oil recycling machine for Midwest Precision Manufacturing.
    The students ask various companies for their business, and not just for a donation.      
    “But we’re asking them for work to make it a more realistic learning experience for the students,” Peter said. “Because the variety of jobs and tasks that a business can provide us is much greater than anything I can think up and much more interesting.”
    The businesses pay Oz Metal and Fabrication for the work it does, and the money is used to purchase additional equipment for the school. The group is also looking to provide scholarships and find other ways to give back to the community. Any money left over is divided up among the students.
    Peter and a few members of the group gave a presentation at the school board meeting on Monday, and some staff wanted to purchase the garden hose holder.
    Those interested in doing so can email Peter at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
    And if that wasn’t enough, Peter is applying for a grant through the Wisconsin Economical Development Corp. that provides matching funds for schools to create a fabrication lab, which is a space where students can learn with 21st-century equipment such as flexible computer-controlled tools.
    Companies that have committed to help create the fab lab include Guy & O’Neill, Midwest Precision, Moraine Environmental, Horizon Construction, Milwaukee NC Machine Company and Oldenburg Metal Tech. Peter will find out the results of the state-matching grant in April.

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