Whitepath Fab Tech hosted Bubba Gibbs in the Teachers in Industry Project this summer. The purpose of the program is to build a stronger relationship between the school system and local industry. Mr. Gibbs is the Engineering teacher at Fannin County High School, and he also holds a degree in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Tech. Whitepath is a local manufacturing company specializing in the production of wiring harnesses and assemblies for the air conditioner market. Whitepath has four facilities in the Blue Ridge and Ellijay area, as well as a facility in Mexico. Whitepath employs approximately 350 people.
The owner of Whitepath, Randy Durden, is also a graduate of Georgia Tech and serves as an advisor for the Technology Student Association at Fannin County High School. He has been actively involved in the engineering program at FCHS for over a year. Most recently, Whitepath has employed two engineering interns from FCHS in their Ellijay facility. These interns were given an opportunity to work day to day with engineers on real projects. Mr. Durden made the following comment regarding these engineering interns, “I look at this program as an investment in the future for these students, Whitepath Fabtech, and our area. It is my hope that some of these students will pursue engineering degrees and then choose to begin their engineering careers at Whitepath. Both Mason Buchanan on Jaron Deal did an excellent job during their internships, and we wish them the best as they pursue their engineering degrees. We are looking forward to giving more students this same opportunity.”
During the Teachers in Industry Program, Mr. Gibbs met with the plant managers for each of the facilities and took factory tours. He also had the opportunity to work directly with Kerry Hicks, Engineering Manager at the HMS facility, to develop lesson plans specifically to introduce students to engineering drawings. According to Mr. Hicks, “Reading Engineering drawings is a skill that is required at all levels in the manufacturing process. Design Engineers develop the drawings, Manufacturing Engineers determine how to integrate them into production, and factory supervisors and production employees have to read them in order to produce high quality products. Reading drawings is a fantastic skill for students to learn at the high school level.”
Mr. Gibbs also worked closely with Dave Landis, the plant manager at the Blue Ridge facility. During the school year, FCHS used their MakerBot 3D printer to print a new design for a connector for Whitepath to present to their customer. The tools are now being built to make the new part, and Mr. Gibbs was able to film the machine producing the current part. Students will be able to review the drawings for the tools, watch the current part being built, and see the direct results of integrating 3D modeling and printing into the workplace. Due to the proximity of the Blue Ridge plant to FCHS, students in Mr. Gibbs’ Engineering classes will also be able to tour the facility and see the machines in production.
After participating in the program, Mr. Gibbs said,
“I am very thankful for the opportunity to participate in The Teachers in Industry Program with WhitePath Fabtech. FCHS and Whitepath already had a good working relationship, and it has been strengthened through the Teachers in Industry Program. The program gave me an opportunity to see first-hand how new technology is being integrated into the manufacturing process, and I now have hands on lessons to integrate into the Engineering Curriculum at FCHS. It is my vision that FCHS will continue to expand the capability in the Engineering Pathway and send more students into the high demand and high paid profession of Engineering. According to Payscale.com seven of the top ten highest paid bachelor degrees are in the field of Engineering, with median starting salaries ranging from $40,000 to $100,000 per year. The other three top ten bachelor degrees are Actuarial Mathematics, Computer Science, and Physics. Entering one of these high technology fields of study will establish a solid foundation for future success for FCHS
Article and photos submitted by Bubba Gibbs.