Return to Headlines

PHS welders put to the test


February 8, 2023

PHOENIX – Phoenix High welding students relatively new to the world of molten metal and angle grinders are busy designing and fabricating bumpers that must be strong enough to withstand the pounding of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department.

Welding teacher Jesse Holcomb’s students have been tasked with building and installing a front and rear bumper for a JCSD Interceptor, which will then be used by the department for PIT (Precision Immobilization Technique) maneuver practice.

“They approached us with the project a couple weeks before Christmas break,” Holcomb said over a steady rumble of machine work in the PHS metal fabricating and welding lab Tuesday. “It was actually really funny. We were in here working and all of a sudden (school resource officer Aaron) Hull and two sheriff's deputies appeared and it’s like, that’s weird, what’s going on? Kids were panicked, like ‘Oh no, somebody’s getting arrested.’ …And they’re like, ‘Hey, would you guys be interested in building bumpers for the PIT maneuvering that we do out in White City?’”

Phoenix High is one of four Rogue Valley schools involved in the project, which is set to wrap up with PIT maneuver testing in mid-April.

Between now and then, PHS students will be working on crossing off a laundry list of PIT car build requirements supplied by JCSD. Among other things, the bumpers must be able to withstand “multiple hits from side and front in training,” protect the front and rear quarter panels to the tire, must not prevent the easy changing of the tires or the opening of the hood/trunk/tailgate, must not impede normal driving function for handling and cannot include sharp edges or ends.

“Right now we’re welding up the brackets for the actual pipe to fit on,” PHS sophomore Kalani Holland said. “It’s going great. …I love welding so much. Welding’s awesome and my teacher’s awesome. I like making things and seeing what I can do with the welding machine and just creating stuff from scratch.”

“I think it’s going pretty good,” PHS sophomore Max Nicholas added. “We’ve had some challenges taking apart the car to get to the point of measuring to get to the bumper, but so far it’s pretty good.”