Starting this fall, Gadsden City High School will partner with Gadsden State Community College to offer computer-aided design classes through a dual-enrollment program for seniors.
These courses will give students high school and college credits at the same time.
The school is using a state grant to put a 16-station lab in the career technical building. David Asbury, Gadsden City Schools’ director of technology and human resources, said the classes will have a Gadsden State instructor, but will be taught at GCHS.
Asbury said the classes will be available free to the students and will give them a foundation of entry-level courses that they can apply toward a variety of fields, such as mechanical design, automotive manufacturing and civil engineering. The credits earned can be used at Gadsden State or at universities such as Alabama and Auburn.
Tim Green, Gadsden State’s dean of technical education and workforce development, said the lab and course schedule was born from discussions with Asbury. He said both of them were looking to boost technology education in a way that could help the most students possible.
Green said the initial classes will focus on AutoCAD, a program used by multiple industries for two-dimensional design, then move on to more advanced programs like Solid Works and Inventor, which focus more on three-dimensional design.
The plan is to split the AutoCAD classes through the fall semester, then offer the 3D design programs in the spring. Each course is worth three credit hours. Combined, they will give the graduating seniors 12 credit hours, which is roughly a semester’s worth of courses, that can be applied as required courses for a degree or as electives.
Green said those four courses can be used toward nine degrees at Gadsden State. He said students who would like to go to a four-year school also will benefit, as the courses are a great introduction for beginning technology students.
He said the goal is to use the initial dual-enrollment classes to gauge interest in technical training among the students. If there is enough interest, Green hopes to expand the program to include juniors and offer more courses, either with a CAD focus or a focus on other trades.
Mike McCain, executive director of the Gadsden-Etowah Industrial Development Association, said the classes and training won’t just help the students, but Gadsden as a whole.
“It will be absolutely beneficial in efforts to recruit new industries and help existing ones expand,” McCain said. “Almost without exception, companies’ top priority is the availability of a workforce with a high degree of technical skill.”
By John Davidson, Times Staff Writer