There are more than 420,000 thousand construction, extraction and production jobs in Wisconsin, and Slinger High School has a tool giving students an edge to get those jobs. They were the first high school in the country with a fiber laser cutter, and still the only one in the state using one.
"Just the level of sophistication of the machine allows us to do a lot of things that most schools can't," said Sam Strachan.
Students said the hands-on experience they're getting in their shop classes helps narrow down what they want to do after high school.
"I'd like to do stuff with building prosthetics, so with machining and actually creating those parts, this will definitely be a part of that," said Strachan.
"I was thinking about possibly being an electrician and then I was thinking about more of a tool and die aspect," said Ally Gundrum.
Welding and Fabrication teacher Aaron Pokrzywa said the fiber laser takes their program to a new level.
"I think this puts us in a position to where we are lock-step in technology with area businesses," said Aaron Pokrzywa. "I think it gives students a huge advantage over others. Our students then are working with directly with the technology that is being used literally today."
Students can take the skills they learn in class and get a job down the road. Local business partners like Weld Fab Manufacturing Corp welcome it.
"I think today's world of manufacturing is challenged on staffing, but it's also getting more technical and that's where the school comes in place of teaching them things from lasers to all kinds of technology," said Art Hahn.
Weld Fab is one of several local manufacturing companies offering apprenticeships to high school students. They end up hiring many of them full time, while others take their skills to a college setting.
"They carry over 100% because the machines, whether they're different in size, they all do the same thing and take the same skills," said Hahn. "I think it's awesome that they get a skilled trade into their world of whatever they're going to do in life."
Slinger is about to add a collaborative welding cell, a new way of programming, making them the first high school with this technology. Students recognize the advantage.
"If you don't know what you're going do in college or you don't want to go to college, these are the classes for you because if you're good at this businesses want you really bad," said Heinz Walther.