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Guitar-making program started at DBHS

Class will teach computer-aided manufacturing

COAL GROVE— Dawson-Bryant High School computer tech instructor Tyler Waller has started a new program at the school, where students will actually get to build their own electric guitars.

Waller said the program, which is beginning next week, has a goal of teaching transferable skills that can be used in several professions during and after high school.

It will teach students how to design, build and play their very own electric guitar, by presenting hands-on, applied learning techniques that engage students and spark excitement for learning STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

“I was looking for a project to show off STEM and science learning at the school,” Waller, who has completed a 50-hour course teach the program, said.

Students will first begin by using Autodesk Fusion 360 software to learn Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) techniques to design and model their guitar body in 2D and 3D space.

They will then utilize high-level thinking to ensure all parts of the guitar fit together correctly and all required measurements are met.

Following the design phase, students will move onto Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM), something Waller said most students at a comprehensive high school never have the opportunity to experience, but is key to this project.

With the help of a Shopbot Desktop Max CNC router, which was purchased through grant funding, the students will utilize CNC skills to properly mill their guitar bodies.

During this phase, they will cover and understand topics such as tolerances, tool feed/speed rates, and proper machine hold techniques and tool selection.

The next phase is assembly, where the students will be required to understand topics such as thread fasteners, proper bonding techniques, alignment, sandpaper classifications, wood finishing techniques and attention to detail.

At the conclusion of assembly, the students will then begin the setup phase, where they will use physics to string the guitar, set the proper length and intonation of each string.

“The most exciting element of the program is the potential for creativity. Participants will have the opportunity to build a guitar that is only hindered by their imagination,” Waller said. “Students will be able to customize every part of their guitar, with the exception of the electronic pickup pockets, neck pocket and the neck profile.”

He added that students would be encouraged to tap into their individual styles and creativity, and let their imagination “run wild” while designing their guitar.

The wood for the project has been donated by Muth Lumber, LLC, of Ironton, and Harold White Lumber Inc., of Morehead, Kentucky, which Waller said have agreed to donate the needed wood for the project for years to come.

“This program is not just a woodworking course. Students will be taught STEM topics that relate directly to physics, calculus, electronics, engineering, biology, art, geometry, tolerances, threaded fasteners and many others,” Waller said. “The program directly aligns in every way to the Next Generation Science Standards that most schools are adopting as curriculum today.”

The program will accommodate around 15 students for this first year, and will run approximately 18 weeks, meeting three hours a day, twice a week after school.

After the initial group, the program will be offered to 15 students the first 18 weeks of next school year and 15 more the second 18 weeks, serving around 30 students per year.

Waller said he will also build a guitar along with the students during each project, which will then be painted by South Point painter Tracey McKenzie.

Then it will possibly  be raffled off as a fundraiser.