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Streamlining the Production Process with Phillips Opto


Fort Smith Public Schools’ Peak Innovation Center has received a $1 Million grant from the Gene Haas Foundation for expansion of the Computer Integrated Machining lab. The Gene Haas Foundation, founded in 1999 by Gene Haas, owner of Haas Automation Inc., is a California-based private foundation committed to advanced manufacturing education. Haas Automation Inc. is America’s leading builder of CNC machine tools, which Haas started in 1983.

Upon completion, the Lab will be approximately 12,000 square feet, equipped with state-of-the-art machining equipment and technology, and ready for training of our regional students. The Lab will be named the “Gene Haas Computer Integrated Machining Lab”.

Press conference speakers pictured from left to right: Michael Garner, Haas Foundation; Congressman Steve Womack; Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin; Dr. Teresa Riley, Chancellor, University of Arkansas – Fort Smith; Tim Allen, Fort Smith Regional Chamber President & CEO; and Dr. Doug Brubaker, Fort Smith Public Schools.

“Manufacturing in the United States continues to grow and it requires individuals who have an ever increasing skill set.  When you consider the rich history of manufacturing in this region, this is an incredible opportunity from which to build an even better future.  This will be a world class career and technical training facility, which will provide incredible opportunities for students. I’m very appreciative that the Gene Haas Foundation saw this as an opportunity to invest in,” Michael Garner, President, Phillips Corporation / Haas Factory Outlet.

“We are so grateful to the Gene Haas Foundation for this grant to help expand our Computer Integrated Machining Lab. Receiving the grant reinforces the notion that our region is and will continue to be a leader in advanced manufacturing education. The Lab will provide our students the opportunity to train on the newest machining technology while developing skills that easily translate to the workforce. We are also grateful for our community partnership with the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce, UAFS and local business and industry to secure such an impactful investment for the growth of Fort Smith Public Schools and our students,” said Dr. Doug Brubaker, Superintendent, Fort Smith Public Schools.

The grant proposal was prepared by Fort Smith Public Schools with support from the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce and the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith. 

“It is very impressive to see the excitement and momentum we are gaining in workforce development in Fort Smith, especially when a world-class organization like the Gene Haas Foundation makes such a significant contribution to our public school. An investment from such a prestige organization is a very compelling sign that we are the right track with creating the workforce of the future at Peak,” said Tim Allen, Fort Smith Regional Chamber President & CEO.

Receipt of the grant was approved unanimously by the Fort Smith Board of Education at the March 2, 2020 Called Board Meeting.

“Students at the Peak Innovation Center will develop the technical, academic, and employability skills needed to be successful in their chosen career path. Thanks to the Gene Haas Foundation, a state-of-the-art Computer Integrated Machining Lab will give students hands-on experience and skills that will translate directly to the workforce, helping fill a skills gap in advanced manufacturing in our region,” said Dr. Gary Udouj, Director of Career Education Center and District Innovation. 

On February 24, 2020, at a regularly scheduled Board of Education Meeting, Fort Smith Public Schools introduced the Peak Innovation Center building name and new logo.

About Fort Smith Public Schools

From unmanned aerial systems programming to unforgettable kindergarten trips to the farm, 

Fort Smith Public Schools provides incredible opportunities and strong instruction for each of the almost 15,000 students in its 19 neighborhood elementary schools, four junior high schools, two senior high schools, one alternative learning center and one adult education center. With nationally recognized schools, students, educators and organizations, Fort Smith Public Schools are always the best choice. For information, visit www.fortsmithschools.org

About the Peak Innovation Center

The Peak Innovation Center, a regional career and technology center with a focus on innovative instructional strategies within the STEAM disciplines, will open in the fall semester of 2021 as part of the District’s Vision 2023 Capital Improvement Program. 

Several FSPS Board Members attended the event. Pictured from left to right: Dr. Gary Udouj, Director of Career Education Center and District Innovation; Board Member Susan McFerran; Board Member Dalton Person; Board Member Talicia Richardson; Board Member Yvonne Keaton-Martin; Board Member Dee Blackwell; Dr. Terry Morawski, FSPS Deputy Superintendent; Dr. Doug Brubaker, FSPS Superintendent; and Dr. Samantha Hall, Assistant Director of District Innovation.
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