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High school students design, weld structures for new Eastlake skateboard park

September 24, 2018

High school students design, weld structures for new Eastlake skateboard park

MAYFIELD, Ohio -- When the City of Eastlake decided to dismantle a skateboard park and later replace it with a new one, it didn’t turn to professional design or construction firms.

Instead, the city turned to the students who make up the Excel TECC program, which includes students from 11 area high schools who are learning CADD (computer-aided design and drafting) engineering at Mayfield High School and welding at Willoughby’s Northern Career Institute.

“Not at all,” said Eastlake Mayor Dennis Morley when asked if he had any qualms about having high school students work on a city project. “All of us want to keep the collaboration we have going with Willoughby-Eastlake Schools.

“We called them and asked, ‘Is this feasible?’ They said yes, and they began doing their research. (The students) visited skateboard parks before they designed it, and the welders are going to assemble the structures. They’re doing an excellent job.”

Morley was one of the speakers Friday at Mayfield High School’s Innovation Center. The skateboard project, and others that Excel TECC students have worked on, were discussed that day in a series of events.

Making the Eastlake skateboard park more feasible was the fact that the city obtained a federal block grant in the amount of $32,000 to pay for the materials. The structures will be made of metal, rather than the wood that had been deemed unsafe at the Roberts Road park.

“Our students started early last (school) year, last October, designing it,” said CADD Engineering Technology teacher Craig Shmidt. “We had a team of six CADD engineering students design it.”

In all, 50 students from participating schools -- including high schools in the West Geauga, Solon, Aurora, South Euclid-Lyndhurst, Orange and Beachwood districts -- attend Excel TECC CADD engineering classes each day at Mayfield High’s Innovation Center. Schmidt teaches them all.

He said that two of his students, Zach Bergeron and Will Maschi -- now graduated, as is the entire team that designed the skateboard park last year as their senior year project -- did as any adult professionals in that situation would do: The students presented their design before Eastlake City Council.

The CADD students, after the design phase, made 3D models of the metal structures -- various types of ramps -- that will be installed at the park. The design team, which also included North High’s Alexandra McCullough, won a bronze award this year for their skateboard park design in the SkillsUSA  competition for Ohio high school students.

The CADD students have also done designs for a music wall that was installed last October at Gates Mills Elementary School, and are now working on designing an IdeaLab lab for the same school and a dollhouse project for Mayfield Middle School.

The real-world experience gained has led students to continue on with what they’ve learned at Mayfield High.

“Ninety-seven percent of our students are college bound and go into the fields of engineering or architecture,” Schmidt said.

As for the welding side of the project, Deanna Elsing, coordinator of the Northern Career Institute in Willoughby, said her 50 welding students -- like the CADD class made up of 25 juniors and 25 seniors -- will turn the designs into actual structures. Her students include those from participating schools Mayfield High and Brush High School.

“Many of our projects are collaborations with community members and businesses,” she said. “They’re community partnerships that give students real-life experience.

“Last year, of our 2018 graduates, 85 percent were AWS (American Welding Society)-qualified upon graduation,” Elsing said. “Prior to graduating, many of them are working paid internships, which lead to full-time employment after graduation.”

The goal is to repave the park’s floor and have the structures completed so that Eastlake youngsters can again be skateboarding in the spring.

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