More training equipment is on the way for the East Texas Advanced Manufacturing Academy, its director said, and all should be in by December. At the same time, officials are working to expand the reach of the academy’s programs to more East Texas school districts.

The academy, which teaches Longview-area high schoolers precision machining technology and instrumentation and electrical work, opened this fall.

Purchase of the latest equipment, 10 lathes and mills, was approved by trustees during a special meeting this past week, Director Jody Sanders said.

The equipment will be used in machining courses next semester, he said.

Instructor Steve Henderson said in August the lathes and mills the students will be training on are used in machine shops to shape and cut building material.

“(On) the lathe, they will be taking and removing metal and building parts that are cylindrical. ... On the milling machines, they’ll be cutting, removing metal, making parts where the geometry is more rectangular in shape,” he said.

The academy has received its instrumentation machine, Sanders said. The training device allows students to read instruments similar to what a professional uses at Eastman Chemical Co. or Nucor Corp., he said.

“At Eastman or Nucor, those instrumentation panels they have ... operate various kinds of equipment,” Sanders said. “Whether it’s oil field or manufacturing equipment, it’s the same kind of principle setup, and it’s a scaled-down version of it. They can see how it works ... and allows them to control the fluids and gases.”

More than 35 juniors and seniors from Longview, Pine Tree, Spring Hill and Hallsville high schools are enrolled at the academy. Sanders said he’s now recruiting other East Texas districts to join the academy.

“I’m going and talking with the other school districts, not just the (founding) four. We’re trying to broaden it to Gladewater, White Oak, Tatum, Sabine, Kilgore — all surrounding (schools). ... Hopefully, they’ll be committed to sending some students,” he said.

Sanders said the academy’s doors also are open for industry partners to have meetings and training sessions at the facility, because high school classes are conducted only Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The facility also may be used for events and meetings, he said. Sanders said the Rotary Club of Longview has scheduled a tour and meeting at the academy next month, and state Rep. Jay Dean, R-Longview, has considered hosting a town hall meeting there.

Machining courses are taught through Texas State Technical College and instrumentation and electrical classes are administered through Kilgore College.

Longview ISD is the fiscal agent for the academy, managing its donations and grant funds, facilities, equipment and day-to-day operations.


Brittany Michelle Williams, a University of Arkansas alumna, serves East Texas as an education reporter at the News-Journal. She won Arkansas Press Association and Arkansas AP Media Editors awards for her work in El Dorado, Arkansas.