Petersburg Pilot -

Current Petersburg Pilot subscribers! Your print subscription entitles you to complete access to our new comprehensive website.  Contact Pilot staff for help setting up your account. Not yet a Pilot subcriber? Subscribe online now!

More than guitars:

Petersburg High School shop teacher learning on the fly


March 24, 2016

Jess Field / Petersburg Pilot

Dave Owens (left) and Casey Evens (right) display the guitars they recently made at a training course in Sitka using a CNC router similar to the one behind them. Evens was the only student to attend, but learned valuable training on how to better use design software and manufacturing tools.

Petersburg High School shop teacher Dave Owens traveled to Sitka earlier this month for training on how to better use design software and manufacturing tools. This year is the first for Owens teaching the industrial arts program at PHS, but he spent well over 10 years heading up elementary school classrooms.

"It was the best teachers training I have ever been to," Owens says with a big smile. "Hands on is fun, and that's where the most learning takes place."

Owens also took a student with him, a first time for him, but having Casey Evens along for the three and a half days of learning helped both teacher and student. The goal of the training was getting a better handle on the computer-aided drafting and design to computer-aided manufacturing (CADD/CAM). A bonus of the training for the pair was making two guitars from scratch. They even used a laser engraver to personalize their guitars. Owens went with a Petersburg marine-theme, and Evens choose to go with PHS Vikings.

"It's really not about the guitars, that was fun and exciting, but it's really about the process of working with the software," Owens says. "The learning just doesn't take place with a guitar."

The software by Rhino can do 3-D printing and design things for the CNC router. Owens calls the software "one size fits all."

Prior to the training, Owens was struggling a bit to keep workflow from the computer to router productive. The training helped immensely and was money well spent, he says.

"Casey was the only student who went. There were teachers from all over Alaska and we were invited to bring students," Owens says. "It didn't cost the district a thing to send him, and he's only sophomore so he has over two years to share what he learned with other students."

For Evens, building something on a computer then being able to hold it was a great experience. It was time consuming, but well worth the effort, he says.

"It wasn't particularly difficult, it just took a lot of fine tuning," Evens says. "It's a little different learning the language but as soon as you get that, it becomes fairly easy."

Evens says learning alongside Owens was fun because he is very enthusiastic and encouraging. Now that he knows the language, Evens is ready to accept the responsibility of helping his fellow students when needed. Evens also likes the fact that the guitars he and Owens built in Sitka will be auctioned off to help fund the shop program. Owens says the guitars need a finish coat, and the auction will take place at the end of this school year or the beginning of next year.

Owens grew up in a logging camp and loves working with his hands. Owens' father was a mechanic with a sense of humor when it came to his son learning to work on his own at a young age.

"I remember the first time I got a hammer in my hands and used up a box of his nails," he says. "When he came home, he kind of shook his head and said, 'Good job, next time why don't you ask? I've got some other nails I'd rather you use, than my good ones.'"

Owens admits there have been some bumps in the road during his transition from an elementary classroom to the high school shop, but that is to be expected. He finds working in the metal shop, where he is lacking a ton of experience, personally gratifying because it presents an opportunity to learn on the go and relay newfound experience to students. Being in the wood shop this semester has also been very enjoyable, he says.

"Working with students isn't new, working with Petersburg kids isn't new, and working with my hands isn't new," he says. "If you show up here in the classroom, any classroom, every day with a smile, happy to be here and ready for the day, I hope that would be infectious."

Owens also gives a lot of credit to school administrators for giving him the opportunity to make the transition. Owens and administrators have had in-depth conversations about a couple of evolving goals for the future of the shop program including offering new opportunities to teach students skills focused on marine-themed careers, like marine hydraulics and electronics courses, in addition to an outboard class, diesel engine training and a refrigeration class.

Jess Field / Petersburg Pilot

Dave Owens' Petersburg-inspired marine guitar (top) and Casey Evens' PHS Vikings guitar (bottom) will be auctioned off after they receive a finish. Proceeds will go toward helping the shop program.

The course subjects are not currently being offered, but the goal is to bring in experts working in the different fields to tap into their knowledge and experience.

Another idea is partnering with businesses in the community to see how the shop can be a resource to local professionals. For instance, if the shop could manufacture aluminum pieces needed by Rocky's Marine it would cut down outsourcing, keep money in the community and subsidize the PHS industrial arts program.

Casey Flint came to Owens with the idea. The benefits would be numerous, and chief among them would be keeping students active and hopefully interested in supporting the local community. And Owens is all for listening to members of the community about ways the shop program can help keep things local.

"What services can we offer to help your business?" Owens says. "Not competing with your business, but enhancing it."


Reader Comments


Our Family of Publications Includes:

Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2018