Brainerd High School students Tuesday got the chance to experience the ins and outs of the manufacturing field, while also playing with some toys.

Bridges Career Academies and Workplace Connection brought a sophisticated piece of machining equipment to the BHS south campus to show how parts are designed and manufactured.

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Students got the chance to watch a video touting the wide variety of products manufacturers make, as well as the rapid changes in the field. They got to watch the office mill in action as it made parts for a yo-yo, which the students then assembled.

Senior Noah Peterson thought the presentation was interesting because there's a lot of job opportunities available in manufacturing. He's been considering going into engineering after high school, so it was cool to see the different ways engineering works with manufacturing.

Sophomore Dayn Meyer said the machining equipment seems safe and easy to use. He's taking programming classes because he wants to program video games, he said, but it was cool to see how programming works with machining and manufacturing.

Brian Bordwell, BHS industrial arts teacher, said automated machining has helped reduce the number of workplace injuries and time lost to injuries. Despite the automation, manufacturing is still a booming field, he said, with 5,000-10,000 open manufacturing jobs in the surrounding area.

The office mill, from Haas Automation, shows students the latest in computer numerical controlled machining capabilities. This field, also called CNC machining, uses computers to control machine tools like lathes, mills, routers and grinders to cut metals and steel to create small parts. Precision milling is used to make many products in industries like medicine, aviation, computing, printing, agriculture, industrial equipment and recreational vehicles.

The unit can fit through a 36-inch door and is light enough for most freight elevators, according to a news release, which means it can be easily brought to schools to expose students to manufacturing. The machine, along with its transporting trailer, was purchased with support from members of the Lakes Area Manufacturers Alliance, advisory board members of Central Lakes Machine Tool Technology Program and Central Lakes College.

The mill is now coordinated by Bridges Career Academies and Workplace Connection, in partnership with the Lakes Area Manufacturers Alliance. The unit is kept at the machine tool technology classroom at CLC in Staples and is available to visit local schools and career exploration events.