The Central Minnesota Credit Union Wadena branch recently presented a $1,000 donation toward a used boring bar machine for Wadena-Deer Creek teacher Mike Shrode's engine classes.

Shrode teaches small and large gas engine classes as an elective for high school students. The Kwik-Way cylinder boring machine provides a critical job for engine work.

"It brings the engine block back to life by drilling precise and round holes," Shrode explained.

Prior to receiving the boring bar machine, students would tear down their engines and those engine blocks would be sent to machine shops to be drilled, Shrode said.

"For example, that cost on a V8 engine would be around $500. That's the single, largest cost that students would have to incur when working on their engines in our class," Shrode said, adding that in no time WDC's newly purchased boring bar machine will be paid for.

Through Shrode's connections at Auto Value, he found the 30-year-old boring machine at a machine shop in Brainerd. Shrode cleaned it up and added a fresh coat of paint, closely matching the original color of the Kwik-Way brand.

He is also working with parts and machine shops to donate parts to further lessen the students' cost of the class.

"My goal is establish these industry relationships and to drive towards getting donations for their individual parts that kids would need. It's $500 for parts and another $500 for machine work. That way, there's very little cost for a kid to take this class. Because I know the cost deters kids from taking the class," Shrode said.

Most importantly though, kids are learning valuable hands-on experience and it just might spark an interest in a trades profession after high school.

"We've got something special here to offer our kids hands-on experience on these machines, to gain that confidence, that's a niche, that's something special," Shrode said. He added, "This donation from CMCU is helping our kids get hands-on training that's essential in our engine classes."

Students are required to take the "Small Engines" class as a prerequisite to the "Large Engines" class. The classes are offered in the spring.