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Diman's metal fabrication department will benefit from $50,000 state grant

Diman's metal fabrication department will benefit from $50,000 state grant
By Michael Gagne
Herald News Staff Reporter

Nic Tavares and Russell Marum
This 2011 photo shows the athletic fields' gate at Diman Regional Vocation Technical High School with the Diman Bengal displayed prominently. Then-Diman senior Nic Tavares, left, and sophomore Russell Marum are shown smoothing out rough edges.
FALL RIVER - The clang of hammers on metal and the high-pitched whir of saw blades slicing through metal sheets were heard Thursday afternoon as students — wearing face shields, goggles, work coats and rubber gloves — worked on various projects in the Metal Fabrication and Welding shop at Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School.

The shop is about to receive a new machine courtesy of a $50,000 state grant, which was announced earlier in the week by Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Tim Murray.

That grant, along with a $50,000 matching grant from Diman, will enable the school’s metal fabrications department to purchase a new water-jet cutting machine, valued at $125,000, said metal fabrication department head Paul Nogueira.

Nogueira said the high-tech machine uses a narrow, extremely high-velocity water stream that is capable of cutting a variety of materials, including metal and glass. It’s energy-efficient and does not create fumes.

He called it “the latest cutting technology in the trade.” Learning how to use it should give students a leg up when they go on to pursue jobs in the field or advance their educations, he said.

“It just betters them,” Nogueira said. "We had been talking about getting a water jet for at least four years.”

“There’s a market for the students for this equipment,” said Diman occupational coordinator Thomas Aubin. “There are only two or three other schools that have this technology.”

Aubin said the school realized the equipment purchase “would be money well-spent."

"They don’t mind spending if they’re getting a bang for the buck,” he said.

Diman’s metal fabrications department currently has nearly 100 students enrolled, Nogueira said. Those students learn sheet-metal and heavy-metal fabrication, as well as all types of welding. The skills enable students to perform duct work and repairs on heavy equipment.

Like many of the school’s programs, metals fabrication integrates academics — especially geometry and trigonometry — with vocational studies.

The school’s iron gates bearing its Bengals mascot were constructed a few years ago by metal fabrications students, with help from their peers in the school’s design, carpentry and auto body shops.

Students who graduate from Diman find work at companies located in Warwick, R.I., Brockton, Seekonk and New Bedford, Nogueira said.

Junior Phillip Dube of Fall River hopes his experience in the welding program will lead to a “good government welding job” or a position with a high-profile company like General Dynamics Electric Boat. The program has taught Dube the value of perseverance.

“You get rewarded for patience,” said Dube, who was building steel shelving frames Thursday. “It has taught me to keep working. You can’t give up.”

Fellow junior Alex Pacheco agreed. It’s helped him to not give up on difficult projects.

“It’s taught me everything,” Pacheco said. “Something may look bad in the beginning, but have patience. It will turn out right in the end.”

Awarding the grant was a highly selective process.

“This was a big win for the program and a big win for the school,” Diman Superintendent-Director Marta Montleon said. 

According to press release from Murray’s office, only 25 schools out of 165 applicants received $1.1 million in vocational school equipment grants from the commonwealth.

Bristol County Agricultural High School also received a $33,547 grant for its horticulture program.
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