Grainger donates to Dist. 218 fund

From Bob McParland
District 218

The Grainger Foundation recently donated $10,000 to the District 218 educational foundation to purchase a Universal Laser System for students in computeraided drafting courses.

Shared by drafting classes at Eisenhower, Richards, and Shepard high schools, the Universal Laser System will allow students to develop skills required in the manufacturing industry.

"Today's manufacturing facilities are highly automated," said Frank LaMantia, the curriculum director for Career and Technical Education in District 218. "Computer numerical controlled equipment and machines are involved in every facet of manufacturing. High school students often have limited or no opportunity to experience CNC equipment, techniques and processes."

Through the laser system, students will cut, mark, engrave, and etch a variety of materials using the same CNC processes employed in manufacturing industries. Grainger's donation benefits all students: the portability of the machinery allows staff to transport the laser system among the three schools.

"The Grainger Foundation allows us to help our communities," said Rich Warfield, manager for the company's Alsip branch. "When we see an opportunity to help students, it's almost a no-brainer."

Warfield emphasized that Grainger views such donations as investments in the future, not only of the company, but the nation as a whole.

"The economy's still sluggish. Manufacturing plays a central role in rebuilding our financial strength. Grants like this help students prepare for the future. This is a case where we can help our communities and invest in the future. We're extremely happy to help," Warfield said.

It's not the first time that the Grainger Foundation has donated money to the Career and Technical Education Department in District 218.

In 2010, Grainger donated $12,000 specifically to finance the purchase of robotics kits. Members of the Robotics Clubs at Eisenhower, Richards and Shepard use the kits to compete in the First Tech Challenge.

Teams of students design, build, and program robots in a tournament-style format. Teams, including coaches, mentors and volunteers, develop strategy and build robots based on sound engineering principles.