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New technology offers real world experience

Seniors Gustavo Martinez and Jacob Goff use a vertical band saw Friday morning in Jared Hyatt's welding class at DHS that was purchased with grant money from the Berger North Foundation.
Brad Coman |

Douglas High School welding and automotive students have been able to learn more effectively with state of the art technology over the last two years.

The high school received a $60,000 grant from the Berger North Foundation, which the welding and automotive departments split between each other to give the students greater hands on experience and knowledge in the trades.

Berger North Foundation is a Nevada Charitable Trust operating to support established charitable organizations such as healthcare, social services, and education. It was established in 2013 as a non-operating private foundation in Minden.

Cade Baligad, the automotive teacher at Douglas used his share of the grant to purchase state of the line vehicles for the students to work on such as a 2015 Ford Focus.

“The kids are really fired up about it,” said Baligad, himself a Douglas graduate. “How often do high school students get to work on state of the art technology that’s out there right now? We wanted to give them a greater experience.”

The results have been worth it. According to Baligad, 100 percent of third year auto students passed the state end of program exam in spring. The students received a completion diploma and state certification in the field.

“To me, that’s huge,” said Baligad. “How often does that happen, where 100 percent of the students pass? These kids will now be able to go straight out and get a good job in automotive and actually know what they’re doing when they get there.”

In the welding department, Jared Hyatt said they’ve been using their grant to purchase consumable equipment and some layout and forming equipment.

“This grant has really helped us out a lot,” said Hyatt. “We had a lot of vintage equipment that was a little scary to use and now we’re able to replace them and use better quality equipment.”

Hyatt said the welding department uses a lot of electricity and metals, at least 60 pounds a year. The grant has also helped them pay for those costs.

Both teachers said having updated equipment and state of the art technology for the kids to learn on has been beneficial in many ways.

“I think it has a lot to do with being able to have these hands on experiences with the modern technology,” said Baligad. “This is what they will be working on outside of high school, so it is important that they learn on them now.”