Industrial Technology Department Reaches New Heights


Photo by: Aimee Barrera

Caiden Thompson, senior, sanding his wooden guitar in his sixth period woodshop class.

Cecilia Bach-Nguyen, Staff Writer

Cam High’s Industrial Technology Department recently experienced a slight change in purpose after Mr. Peter Wachtel, after being installed as department head at the beginning of this school year, decided to make the skills taught in the Department class more applicable to students’ future lives. The Industrial Technology Department has always included Architecture, Auto CADD, and Wood One and Two/product design classes, but the intent of the department has shifted from learning basic woodshop skills to learning basic woodshop skills and how to apply them to students’ lives.

 Wachtel has used his experience in product design to shift the focus of the Industrial Design Department from creating random items to creating usable, everyday products and using skills that could later be applicable in students’ lives. Instead of assigning one item for the whole class to create, as the Industrial Design Department would do before, Wachtel asks students to create a product of their choice for them to use themselves.

The goal of the Industrial Technology Department is to teach students the basic skills needed to create, draft, or build objects so that they are able to go straight into a job that requires manual skills and labor after high school or do handy workaround their own home. “If you know how to draft or draw or build things, [these classes will] come in handy whether you’re a handyman or not,” said Wachtel.

Wachtel has previously created products such as the “Grill Wrangler”, a three-in-one home barbecue tool, which has been featured on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Today Show, ABC, CBS Early Show, Good Day Sacramento, HGTV, Fox, and some others, as well as dozens of other patented products.

Before arriving at Cam High, Wachtel taught toy, product, and graphic design classes at Pratt Institute, Columbus College of Art & Design, The Art Institute of California in Hollywood, Otis College of Art & Design, Parsons School of Design, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “This is my first year teaching high school. I’ve been teaching [at the college level] for twenty years,” said Wachtel.

Watchel hopes to utilize the woodshop class to teach students how to use different wood working tools and machinery to create various projects, maybe even like the ones he’s created.

In Auto CADD, students use a CADD (computer-aided design and drafting) program to digitally design three dimensional products. Aidan Mara, junior, would like to pursue a career in the industrial design field or a as designer in the motion picture industry. He enrolled in the class because “[he] wanted to get experience with computer design and the software involved.” Mara has so far designed a computer mouse, toys, and model houses.

Auto CADD is a class that allows students to electronically send product design plans to a factory or a 3D printer, which the department is hoping to obtain.”The changes I’ve made are that I took traditional woodshop technology and changed it into product design,” said Wachtel. “Basically I’m trying to [apply] all the projects and all the skills that they’re learning [to] real world projects that they can do in the real world.”

Woodshop and Auto CADD students get to choose what projects they want to work on, rather than having the teacher assign an object to them. Common projects in the woodshop classes include skateboards, guitars, bar stools.

Cody Arthur, a junior who is enrolled in one of Wachtel’s woodshop classes, thinks that the skills he’s learned will be useful in the future even though he hopes to be a medic in the navy. “Hopefully I’ll be able to do handyman work on a house of my own” said Arthur.

In the smaller Auto CADD class, which is made up of only fifteen students, some examples of projects include toys, houses, surfboards, and video game products. “I have designed two houses and a surfboard,” said junior Max Deleon who hopes to go into a biology or engineering career. “I wanted to expand my skills and the CADD class seemed interesting [and is] allowing me to bring out the creativity in myself” said Deleon.