The vocational program at Manual Academy began the academic year with a few new pieces of equipment that are unusual for high school workshops.
Two CNC machines, a hydraulic tube bender and the software to operate the equipment joined an assortment of welding stations and other tools courtesy of Caterpillar Inc.
The company has supported the skilled trade programs at Manual with donations and training since 2011, but the larger gift this year is part of a three-year, $300,000 commitment to Peoria Public Schools to help develop the next generation of workers.
“This is not the type of equipment that most schools can purchase,” said Andrew Rice, who guides Manual students through their first classroom experiences of industrial applications in classes such as precision metals and introduction to technology and engineering.
The financial support for Peoria Public Schools is not limited to the vocational program, Superintendent Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat said Tuesday at a news conference announcing the donation.