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Supplying steel to students in rural NSW

Metal Work facility area

At Edcon Steel, we love supporting the next generation, particularly when it comes to steel and metalwork.

We recently supplied engineering steel to the Technology and Applied Studies (TAS) department at Gilgandra High School. We spoke to Russell, the head teacher of TAS, about how he teaches the students the skills they need for steel and metal work and the value of Edcon Steel’s online ordering system.

Senior Workshop

Gilgandra High School

Gilgandra is a town in the Orana region of New South Wales, just north of Dubbo. Russell Woollams has been the Head TAS teacher of the local high school for some time.

“I’ve been a TAS teacher for a long time, probably close to 30 years,” Russell explains.

“I’m the main metalwork teacher here at Gilgandra High School, and we offer metalwork to students in year 9 right through to year 12.

It continues to be a really popular subject in our area,

We find that students have more opportunities outside of school to engage in metal-related activities, whether fixing things on the farm or making things in the shed, particularly things that can’t be purchased easily.”

The students who undertake the TAS course learn a range of metalworking skills. For years 9 and 10, the focus is on establishing the foundational skills in metalwork, and then years 11 and 12 move into a vocational course in manufacturing and engineering.

Metal firepit and sits
A Gilgandra High School student’s major project: firepit and seats

Developing and encouraging metalworking skills

At the subject’s core, the focus is on developing and encouraging metalworking skills in the students by showing them the wide range of industries, materials, and elements involved in the trade.

“We take the students through different metalworking industries so they can build their skills in a variety of areas,” Russell explains.

We’ve covered the sheet metal trade and are about to start fitting and turning. Later in the year, we’ll head into fabrication, which the students love because they get to use the welders.

Once they understand the foundational elements of metalwork, the students have the opportunity to complete a major project in year 10. The major project allows the students to combine their research skills and creativity with their accumulated metalworking skills.

“There have been some great projects over the years,” Russell says.

“We’ve had metalworking benches, dog cages to go in the back of utes, as well as coffee tables and garden ornaments.

The students take full control of the project, from researching and designing to ordering the products and, of course, construction.

“It’s great because they get all this foundational experience, which makes the year 11 and 12 subjects easier for them to move through and allows them to work towards recognised qualifications,” Russell explains.

“We cover most of the units for a Cert 2 in engineering. By getting most of the units ticked off at school, they only have to complete the remaining units once they finish year 12.”

Having lived in the area for years, Russell has seen many of his students turn their metalworking skills into flourishing careers.

“I’ve been here a while, so I’ve been able to see two students set up their own successful engineering businesses in town, and we’ve also got a lot of students who have established themselves in various trades.”

A raised dog cage designed and built by a Gilgandra High School student

Finding the right products with Edcon Steel

Russell typically buys his steel and metal supplies from local suppliers. However, when preparing for the fitting and turning area of study, he needed to look outside his local area for the right products.

“For the fitting and turning element of the course, we needed engineering steel,” Russell explains.

“I wanted the students to work with higher-quality materials that are closer to those used in the industry.

And while we can get plenty of straight hot-rolled steel or black bar from our local suppliers really easily, it was more difficult to find engineering steel.

Russell turned his attention online to find the right products and came across the Edcon Steel website.

“I really appreciated three things from the Edcon website that made me place my order,” Russell says.

“The first was being able to have items cut to length. This is really valuable to us as we don’t always need 6m of something, so getting just what we need was really helpful.

The wide variety of options for what we were chasing was also really useful. Then, of course, the fact that it was all easily accessible on the website was great. It made the process work for us.”

Edcon steel company cars and trucks parked outside the warehouse

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