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Blind Students At Davis Technical College Learn Precision Machining

KAYSVILLE, Utah – Blind students at Davis Technical College in Kaysville have taken advantage of a machining program that could lead them to dream jobs in the aerospace industry.

It is the only program of its kind in the nation that is offered to the blind.

This is the first time a course in Computerized Numerical Control machining was offered at the school.

Instructors said the blind community is often left out of opportunities like this, but so far, these students have exceeded expectations.

Attention to detail is often everything when designing precision machine parts.

“I’ve always wondered how I could be able to make this work. It’s a really difficult field to get into because I’ve always had the impression that it’s very visual,” said Marley Passey, one of the students who enrolled in the program.

Passey said it takes a different approach and sometimes she has to feel where things are.

“I’ve never heard of a blind machinist before,” Passey said.

“Being like, ‘Oh I did this,’ is very rewarding”, said classmate Annie Mendenhall said.

Another student, Landon Pearce, never thought it was something he would be able to do. “I thought it would be more sight-based because you have to see what your machine is doing,” he said.

The students were diagnosed with different levels of legal blindness. But each of them is now at a new level of building.

There’s no saying where the new skill will take the students, but it could lead to jobs in many industries — including aerospace.

“I think it will help me a lot with where I want to go with the space industry and especially with SpaceX – where I want to work,” Pearce said.

He’s learned there is more than one way to get the job done.

“You can listen to what it’s doing, how it’s cutting, and if it sounds good — if it sounds bad,” Pearce said.

“They are blind living in a visual world, so they’ve kind of found ways and technology has gotten to a point where it’s overcompensated for a lot of what we thought were issues,” said instructor Jeff Vincent.

He’s one of two instructors in the course. He said these students are as determined and capable as any others.

“It’s really cool how far technology has come,” Passey said.

Each of the students travels at least an hour to class.

Annie Mendenhall said her commute to and from Orem takes three hours by bus and train.

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