What does the workforce of the future look like? And how does education prepare students for it—especially those who may not be headed for college? The Manufacturing Industry Learning Lab (MILL) may be the answer to both questions.
The 46,000-square-foot MILL National Training Center south of the Colorado Springs Airport is a partnership of Peyton 23-JT and Widefield District 3 where high school students receive hands-on training in woods manufacturing, cabinet finishing and construction.
The model for the vocational training center program was pioneered by Dean Mattson, founder of five companies and CEO of Mattson’s Interiors, which he transformed from a cabinet manufacturing company to a Career Technical Education Consulting (CTE) company. His awarded educational work in Oregon caught the attention of Peyton 23-JT Superintendent Tim Kistler, and together they launched a woodworking manufacturing lab in 2015—which attracted Widefield District 3 Superintendent Scott Campbell.
Mattson developed the curriculum. The two school districts jointly purchased the facility, and classes began in 2017 at the MILL. To date, more than 80 partners worldwide support the training center with the latest machinery for students to learn and work with wood, metals, carbonate and plastics. Beyond the high school classes, MILL classes include offerings for college, military and industry students.
“Students are taught what industry wants. We are told the current needs, and we adjust,” Kistler says. “We’ve bridged the gap between education and industry.”
“We believe we have the same obligation to [trades] students as we have for our college-bound,” Campbell adds, “which is to prepare them for life after high school and allow them to gain the skills needed to secure a good career.”
Learn More at themillco.org