This spring, students enrolled in the Muskogee High School welding program built a 16-foot-long car hauler trailer as a class project. The trailer was designed and built by the students in the program.

The frame is made entirely of 6-inch rectangle tubing; tongue and bracing is 5-inch-square tubing; and 5-inch angle iron all one-quarter wall. The deck is made of diamond plate steel and measures 16 feet by 81.5 inches, complete with heavy-duty drop-down ramps.

Upon completion of the trailer, Muskogee Powder Coating, a division of Advantage Terrafab, graciously donated their powder coating services. The partnership between Advantage Terrafab and the MHS Manufacturing Club has continued to grow since Andy Morris, president of Advantage Terrafab, visited the welding classroom a few years ago.

“I hope by talking with them that I can be an inspiration to them because I did not go to college," Morris said. "I want to give them hope that there is more out there than just going to college. That they can make a good, honest living. College is a choice, but it's not the only choice."

The MHS Manufacturing Club was founded in 2018 by a partnership with the MHS Welding program and the Port of Muskogee’s Dream It. Do It. program. Students in the club tour manufacturing facilities, participate in mock-interviews and meet local manufacturing representatives.

“We wanted to start a program with the local high school that focused on manufacturing career opportunities in Muskogee,” said Lindsey McCall, workforce development manager for the Port of Muskogee. “A lot of schools have Robotics or STEM clubs, but we have yet to find another true manufacturing in this part of the country. We are very excited to partner with Muskogee Public Schools and our local manufacturers to help build the manufacturing workforce pipeline."

Since the Fall of 2018, members of the manufacturing club have toured many manufacturing facilities in Muskogee, including Acme Engineering and Manufacturing Corporation, Advantage Controls, Advantage Terrafab, American Foundry Group, Dal-Tile, Georgia-Pacific, Meridian Brick and O-I.

“Through these tours the students learned valuable lessons on how manufacturing occurs, the safety processes and the modern advancements,” said Jason McPeak, Muskogee High School welding instructor and club sponsor. “Students were given an up-close opportunity to see the mechanical aspects as well as the new robotic technologies being utilized in these state-of-the-art facilities.  

“We’ve had CEOs, plant managers and human resource specialists all come to the school or open their plants to our students. This year we were unable to do so many of the things that help prepare a young adult for the workforce and give them a glimpse of the opportunities of and working in a manufacturing environment. But we are very thankful for the relationship we have built with Advantage Terrafab and Muskogee Powder Coating that allowed us to continue to work together."

“Students graduating from Muskogee area high schools should know the career opportunities in manufacturing that are available to them right here in Muskogee,” said McCall. “They’ll have built relationships with HR and Plant Managers at a lot of the companies they will be applying to after graduation. No student should ever think they have to leave the area to make a good living and have a successful career.”

For more information about the Muskogee High School Manufacturing Club, contact Lindsey McCall, Workforce Development manager, Muskogee City-County Port Authority, (918) 682-7887 or email to lindsey@muskogeeport.com.

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