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Buckeye Local power mechanics course revs students for success

AN ADVANTAGE — Jake Bednarek, a senior at Buckeye Local High School, reviews a diesel engine for his project in the power mechanics program at Jefferson County Joint Vocational School. Instructor Fred Jones said students learn how to repair and maintain systems both great and small and earn industry certifications which give them an advantage in the workforce. -- Contributed

BLOOMINGDALE — Students partaking in the power mechanics program at Jefferson County Vocational School have opportunities to work in a multitude of industries and on systems both great and small.

Pupils learn how to repair and maintain equipment in everything from weed eaters to vehicles and instructor Fred Jones said his 20 juniors and seniors cover a range of lessons each semester, plus they can earn certification to operate lifts as part of their jobs. Juniors respectively concentrate on semi-truck and electrical systems while seniors focus on hydraulics and power trains in the lab. He said students gain experience working on equipment that spans from lawn equipment, personal watercraft and dirt bikes to farm tractors and commercial trucks, and one project included retrofitting and installing a diesel engine in a Jeep. Students also are able to bring their own projects to the lab to complete.

Jones has seen many students move on to various careers upon leaving the JVS.

“I’ve had students go to be mechanical engineers in the heavy truck industry and the operations union and there are a lot who work with semi-truck trailer refrigeration. They also get a forklift driver’s license, scissor and aerial lift and First Aid/CPR and OSHA-10 certification and OSHA HAZWOPER certification for hazmat cleanup. They need certifications to go into fields and operate equipment and a lot of equipment we work on involve scissor lifts.”

He noted that some graduates have gone on to Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics to learn aircraft maintenance and repair while one current JVS student is earning an apprenticeship as a technician in the trucking industry.

Kyle Castro, a senior at Indian Creek High School, has worked with Fraley & Schilling Inc. of Brilliant for the past year and said skills he’s gained in the program have come in very handy.

“It’s taught me all the electrical and basic motor and diagnostic knowledge that I use every day,” he said, adding that he plans to continue working for the company after he graduates. “If you want a great teacher and to gain experience and have an interest in mechanical things, this is the place to go.”

Senior Joey McGinness, who attends Steubenville Catholic Central, hopes to work as a mechanic after he leaves high school and said the JVS has been instrumental in getting him ready for the workforce.

“I like (power mechanics). I work on this a lot of the time so I’m used to it,” he said. “I like working on my own projects.”

Meanwhile, Jones said the goal is to ensure students have the know-how to delve into the workforce.

“The purpose of this program is to have them ready for entry-level positions in the industry, and having the certification is a big step in the door.”

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