Going high-tech: Donated equipment benefits Connect 4

Tuesday, October 15, 2019
Connect 4 director James Knight poses with a robot that was recently donated to the program.
Haley Schichtl / Carroll County News

By Haley Schichtl


The Connect 4 industrial education program is going high-tech after ABB donated a robot and a Haas lathe for students’ use.

“They can get in-depth training with navigating through Haas menus and operating the machine,” Connect 4 director James Knight said.

Connect 4 is a partnership between Tyson Foods and the Berryville, Eureka Springs and Green Forest school districts.

“We’re developing a lot of internships, so we can have avenues of employment for all our seniors that make it through the program,” Knight said. “That’s priority number one — internships, job placement for all the Carroll County students. And there’s a lot of buy-in from the community and surrounding industries.”

Knight said Tyson is implementing the use of robots, so the company wants to make sure there is a work force that knows robotics. He said he thinks a robot revolution is on its way.

“Tyson is good about coming in here and doing a lot of training,” he said. “So is a lot of industry around here. We’ve got Josh Smith Plumbing coming in Friday to teach a class and do a hands-on project. So we’re bringing in different people to come in that are experts in their field.”

Knight mentioned that students also get the advantage of networking with people in these companies, which opens up possibilities for work. Experts come in to talk to students about every other week, Knight said.

Knight said the students will take a trip to Silver Dollar City later this year to tour the ridesand learn about building the parts.

“Fire in the Hole is an old machine — they’ve got a full-on machine shop underneath because if something breaks on there, they have to manufacture that part because they can’t buy it anymore,” Knight said. “It’s really interesting.”

He explained that providing high school students with technical education puts them at a great advantage, often allowing them to go straight into trade work after high school.

“Whenever you talk about getting out in industry and working, there’s a big disconnect on what people are thinking about what you’re going to make and how you’re going to make it, and that’s the thing I’m trying to get across to everybody,” Knight said. “You can make good money.”

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