Tyler Huston

Cochranton Junior-Senior High School senior Tyler Huston (right) helps senior Logan Jacobs as they work on their RoboBOT for Saturday’s annual competition at Meadville Area Senior High School.

What began as an off-hand comment by Tyler Huston to his teacher Chris Yost has turned into Huston’s legacy at Cochranton Junior-Senior High School.

“We were talking back and forth and I said why don’t we try to get a CNC (computer numerically controlled) machine donated as my senior project,” Huston, a senior at the school, said.

Huston was able to secure a $9,000 grant for a new CNC milling machine and computer software through a grant from the northwestern Pennsylvania chapter of the National Tooling and Machining Association Education Foundation.

“He actually developed the application for the grant, too,” according to Yost, who teaches applied engineering at Cochranton.

Involved in the RoboBOTS robot building competition for the last five years, Huston said he wanted to try to do something for the school and its participation in RoboBOTS because he’s learned so much. That’s when he hit on the idea of trying to get a CNC machine for the school’s engineering program.

“A lot of things teach you the basic skills — mathematics, science, English and teaching you how to write. This (RoboBOTS) program puts it all together and teaches you to think critically,” Huston said. “At the competition you have to think under stressful circumstances and make it all come together.”

Yost said he’s impressed by Huston’s attitude and initiative over the years with the RoboBOTS program.

“He would call companies and talk to them as an adult to get donations of money or time as sponsors to help our RoboBOTS program,” Yost said. “He would keep in contact with them.”

It was gratifying as a teacher to see the NTMA’s Education Foundation recognize Huston’s initiative, according to Yost.

 “He deserved it,” Yost said. “As teacher it makes you feel really good to see another student concerned about providing other kids with an education.”

Yost said the CNC machine will be used throughout the industrial arts curriculum with eighth grade students learning how to write basic computer programs for it.

“As they progress through the years, they’ll go from writing the programs to running the machine,” Yost said. “To prepare kids for those technical careers we need to train kids at an early age.”

Huston is headed toward a technical career following his high school graduation in June.

He’s been accepted into the U.S. Air Force Academy where he’s going to study aerospace engineering and train to be a pilot.

The grant Huston obtained from the NTMA’s Education Foundation was part of a total of $21,000 made to technical education programs at Cochranton, Union City and Conneaut Area high schools to fund the purchase of equipment and software.

The contributions for technical equipment were made possible through Pennsylvania’s Education Improvement Tax Credit Program (EITC).

Through EITC, eligible businesses make donations to approved Educational Improvement Organizations such as the Education Foundation, a regional nonprofit organization for the promotion and support of the custom precision machining and manufacturing industry.

The participation of local businesses NuTec Tooling Systems, Northwest Savings Bank, C&J Industries, Acutec Precision Machining, Starlite Diversified, Peters’ Heat Treating, PNC Bank and McGill Power Bell & Associates gives the Education Foundation the ability to fund RoboBOTS, NTMA Manufacturing Student Clubs and automated equipment and related software for classrooms.

“We are very thankful for the businesses that have supported our EITC Program,” said Chris Minnis, president of the Education Foundation and owner of Laser Tool & Plastics. “It is helping us to support the regional RoboBOTS contest as well as area high schools’ technical education programs. We know it’s a big investment for schools to keep up with technology and it’s important to us to have students working on up to date software and equipment.”

Did you know?

Manufacturing is important to Crawford County since there is a heavier reliance on it here than in other parts of Pennsylvania and the country. About 23 percent of the jobs in the county are related to manufacturing, compared to about 10 percent for the state and 11 percent nationally. Many of the area’s tooling and machining shops are suppliers of tools, equipment and parts to major manufacturers.

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