SEDRO-WOOLLEY — Chatter filled Dave Young’s classroom Thursday at Sedro-Woolley High School as his engineering students put the finishing touches on their final projects.

Davis Mihelich, 18, pulled up a design of a chess set on his computer’s AutoCad program. His work was recently brought to life using a laser-etching machine to create the board and its pieces.

“I got a picture online, then I just drew them,” Mihelich said. “It’s pretty simple.”

Young has taught similar classes at the high school since 1991, focusing mostly on engineering and manufacturing.

This year he decided to try something new in helping create a class that melds math and manufacturing to help students answer the age-old question: When am I ever going to use this?

The new class is called AMPED, which stands for algebra, manufacturing, process, entrepreneurship and design.

Students used those skills throughout the year to run a T-shirt printing business. Young held up a gray T-shirt with a Cubs logo as an example.

“This business helps us show how math relates,” he said. “It was almost about $8,000 in revenue. That’s where you get the algebra. (It’s) in the invoices, business models and stuff like that. The manufacturing is the T-shirt printing press.”

By the end of the year, word had spread of the class. Young was recently awarded the William Dahlgren Teacher of Excellence Award from the Society for the Advancement of Material and Processing Engineering Foundation in Seattle.

Janicki Industries President John Janicki presented Young the award at the foundation’s conference at the Washington State Convention Center.

The award is presented once a year, according to a news release.

“It’s humbling,” Young said. “There are a lot of great teachers around here doing great stuff. Being recognized with this award is nice and validates what you are doing.”

Young said he and Assistant Principal Wes Allen came up with the idea for AMPED based on a similar program at a high school in Colorado. That school had operated the program for 12 years and staff were happy to provide guidance.

Young and other Sedro-Woolley staff flew to Colorado to observe the program. The Colorado school also sent teachers to Sedro-Woolley to train Young and Doug Pass, who teaches the algebra portion of the class.

The AMPED class ties in well to the school’s STEM network, an initiative to better prepare students for careers in science, technology, engineering and math, Young said.

Those jobs have among the highest demand.

In the AMPED class, one of the main projects included the T-shirt printing business, which turned a profit of $500.

That money will go back into the class, Young said.

The T-shirt business also used a $25,000 laser-etching machine to create award plaques.

Students also had the chance to build their own longboards and skateboards.

Young’s class gives students a chance to experiment and come up with their own ideas, too.

That’s what Ramilio Uzunov, 17, did when he designed what he calls a monitor help flag.

The device clamps on to the top corner of a computer monitor. When a student needs help from a teacher, they can flip up the device’s flag as you’d do with a mailbox.

He said he came up with the idea out of necessity.

“In our AP computer science class, everyone always has their hands up because it’s all about troubleshooting,” Uzunov said.

Young said some of his students from the AMPED class started building their own fidget spinners — a handheld stress-relieving toy that spins — by using a 3-D printer.

“That was actually a good lesson because they had to install the bearing correctly,” Young said. “Other than that, those spinners are annoying.”

With summer break underway, Young plans to refine the class for next year.

“After one year, you take a look at things to change and do better,” he said.

He said there’s plenty to adjust, but he had one of the best years teaching he’s had in a while.

“I found myself coming to work earlier than I ever had before,” he said.

— Reporter Aaron Weinberg: 360-416-2145, aweinberg@skagitpublishing.com, Facebook.com/byaaronweinberg

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