Jasper Engines & Transmissions, Waupaca Foundry in Tell City and Perry Central Junior-Senior High School join forces to offer Work-based Learning

The participants in the Commodore Manufacturing program might want to consider having a “Bring Your Parent to Work Day.”

That’s because Commodore Manufacturing — a unique joint venture between Jasper Engines & Transmissions, Waupaca Foundry in Tell City and Perry Central Junior-Senior High School — is 100% student-led and operated. Students not only created the business plan, they are also responsible for customer interactions, quality, production, marketing, payroll and safety components of the business. They have even adopted LEAN principals, including a management board that tracks trainings and orders.

According to Perry Central Community Schools, the program is a work-based learning opportunity for students who have completed the school district’s HIRE and Ag Power curriculum to continue on an Advanced Manufacturing pathway. It is seen as a great opportunity for students to directly apply skills they’ve learned in the classroom to a hands-on production environment.

As a few examples, the students are welding rakes and plungers used by Waupaca in its foundry, as well as assisting Jasper Innovative Solutions with the assembly of weather stripping kits, brake pads and transmission cooler vents that are used by its customers. The program is an educational pathway for manufacturing careers and is accredited by the state to provide high school and college credits, according to Jasper’s website.

The Perry school district also said it is looking to expand to include building livestock feeders and gates for local farmers. According to the district’s website, school officials “feel fortunate to offer this special learning environment for students to apply what they have learned in the classroom and then see the application result in a tangible product that they can take pride in. We are also very thankful for the local business partners who have helped us to see this program become a reality and who will continue to help us grow Commodore Manufacturing into a first-class manufacturing facility.”

The program has become so successful since its implementation in late 2017, Indiana INTERNnet last year honored Jasper Engines & Transmissions along with Perry Central Junior-Senior High as its School Counseling-Business Partnership of the Year. The award was presented by the Indiana Chamber Foundation and the Department of Workforce Development.

When the launch of Commodore Manufacturing was first announced in December 2017, Luke Bawel, vice president of Jasper Engine’s Supply Chain and Logistics Groups, spoke to Inside Indiana Business: “We have been honored to partner with Perry Central over the past several years (through internships and other programs) and with Commodore Manufacturing. They are leading the way in education, giving students the opportunity to learn the skills needed to step into the evolving manufacturing world, as well as learn the soft skills that so many lack when leaving school to find a career. We are excited to see this next step as they continue to challenge themselves and their students.”