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Westwood students benefiting from new tech

PHOTO. A 2015 photo of Westwood High School. Fort McMurray's school boards announced staggered entry for all grades for the upcoming 2020-21 school year due to COVID-19. Supplied by FMPSD.

One could say life moves at a fast pace at Westwood Community High School.

Last February, the school secured the national Best Buy Technology Grant worth up to $10,000.

The school used the funds to purchase a pair of 3-D printers.

Robotics teacher Jeff Landry said it’s a critical investment for students as technologies advance.

“Westwood is leading the front when it comes to the computer science end of things, and we’re hitting every aspect of the school here.”

Landry added nearly 70 per cent of Westwood’s student body enrolled in computer science courses.

Leading the program at the school are he and computer science teacher, Said El Medjdani.

“Me and Mr Said [El Medjdani], he actually piloted the program, he started with 10-15 students and four computers, and now we’ve risen to five to eight different classes running continuously throughout the day.”

Today, Westwood High teaches coding, digital design, robotics, and now 3-D printing.

Moreover, Landry said this includes a “Queens of Coding” program.

Driven by female students, the group teaches younger girls at the school the joys of coding.

Speaking of the 3-D printers, Landry said they are a valuable resource for various departments.

“Doing items for the drama productions, taking elements into our calculus classes. If we’re missing parts [for our robotics], we don’t have to wait to order; we can print them in house.”

The printing materials, also known as filaments, cost around $1,000.

However, the school can spread the cost throughout the school year in careful monitoring and cost-savings.

“We were actually taking 3-D printers from other schools in the district and fixing them with our 3-D printers, so that’s kind of the stuff we’re doing.”

With the system fully stocked, Landry said the printers help students learn about tomorrow’s technology today.