BATESVILLE, INDIANA — The plan to construct a technology welding lab on the campus of Batesville High School (BHS) is proceeding, thanks to an investment from local Batesville manufacturer Wood-Mizer, LLC. This gift brings the total funds available for the project to roughly $1.5 million.
“This commitment from Wood-Mizer is impactful,” said Paul Ketcham, Batesville Community School Corporation (BCSC) superintendent. “Having this type of support from a local manufacturer reflects the company’s commitment to the Batesville community at-large and to the education of our area’s youth in a trade that is in high demand.”
Wood-Mizer, a 100% employee-owned company with a culture of giving back, builds portable sawmill and woodworking equipment in Batesville, starting with raw steel that is cut, formed, welded, painted, assembled, and shipped all over the world by hardworking Hoosiers. Headquartered in Indiana since 1982, Wood-Mizer has earned the reputation as a world-leading wood processing equipment manufacturer with more than 100,000 sawmills in 120 countries throughout the world.
“We are thrilled to continue supporting the southeastern Indiana community with the new BHS technology welding lab,” said Darryl Floyd, Wood-Mizer President – North America. “For the past 40 years, welders have made it possible for us to build our sawmilling equipment in the Batesville area and ship it all over the world. We are committed to providing more local training opportunities for students because we understand the value and appreciate the important skillset professional welders provide in the industry.”
In addition to the investment from Wood-Mizer, the project has available funds from a grant from the Indiana Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI), the City of Batesville’s Redevelopment Commission, Ivy Tech, and BCSC through other money earmarked to address educational needs. The READI grant portion will also be used to support BCSC’s Dual Credit and Dual Enrollment scholarship program with Ivy Tech, which allows BHS students to earn college credit tuition-free as part of their high school enrollment.
The technology welding lab, targeted for completion in the fall of 2023, will be a combination of renovated existing space and building expansion on the north side of the high school, according to Ketcham. Once functional, the site will initially offer welding classes, but the footprint of the space will allow for intentional expansion as program needs evolve. Depending on the final scope of the project, the total cost of the lab may approach $2 million. Funding for the remainder of the costs may come from additional community partners, as well as a potential bond sale later this year.
“We hope to add various aspects of the skilled trades—robotics, industrial maintenance, precision machining, those types of programs—as time goes on,” Ketcham explained. “Student enrollment each year will be dependent upon the depth of programming offered. Right now, the number of students enrolled in the Southeastern Career Center’s welding program is limited. Our new on-site program will allow more students the opportunity to explore welding as a possible career.”
As with other established Ivy Tech-coordinated work-based learning programs at BHS, such as health sciences and manufacturing, the welding curriculum will culminate in possible certification with industry-recognized credentials in the field. The Batesville High School technology welding lab will also provide students with the opportunity to earn an Associate of Applied Science in Industrial Technology.
“Ultimately, we want to provide our students unparalleled opportunities to explore and develop industry-based welding skills,” Ketcham explained. “Our partnership with Wood-Mizer affords our students professional experiences in a K-12 setting and intentionally amplifies the skilled workforce in our community. We are extremely grateful for the company’s support of this unique opportunity and look forward to celebrating them in this new space made possible through their generous investment in our students.”