History of the MiLL
The Manufacturing Industrial learning Lab (MiLL) concept was founded by a former businessman and cabinet maker, Dean Mattson. Mr. Mattson took over a woods program in a large Oregon school district before Tim Kistler, the former Superintendent of Peyton School District, reached out to Mr. Mattson to talk about replicating this model for learning in their school district.
Once the Peyton program began to grow, other school districts began to take notice. Scott Campbell, then Superintendent of Widefield School District 3, recognized the power of this model and began working with Peyton and Mr. Mattson to create a national training center split between the two Colorado school districts.
In the fall of 2017, the doors to the Manufacturing Industry Learning Lab (MiLL) were opened, which sought to acquire skilled workers in Cabinet Manufacturing, Construction Technology, and Welding Technology in Colorado. The new training center offered students access to industry approved curriculum for those interested in pursuing a career those trades.
A separate board was formed with authority for making decisions that best serve the MiLL and its students. The ultimate goal of the partnership was to promote a stronger and more consistent workforce in Colorado by expanding pathways for learners and offering opportunities for students to become efficient in a chosen trade.
In addition to supporting high school students, the training center has been used to support many community organizations or programs such as the Wounded Warriors, Construction Industry Training Council, and Widefield Parks & Recreation.
Eventually, over 60 worldwide partners connected to wood manufacturing, various construction partners aligned with the Housing and Building Association and some welding companies would contribute time, resources, or money to support The MiLL concept.The MiLL has grown to include more than $2 million in contributed equipment and software from some of the industry's most significant names, such as Stiles, Tiger Stop, and Triton Power Tools.
As of current, the MiLL and its programing is owned and operated by Widefield School District 3.
Today, the MiLL supports over 422 high school students across the three programs. Many of these students will receive industry certifications, apprenticeships, internships, or employment from local companies looking for skilled workers.
Kevin Duren, the current Widefield School District 3 Superintendent, has the vision to expand and enhance this model of learning to support other industries so students can have direct access to employment opportunities after they have completed their desired level of education. Within this future vision will exist engineering, advanced manufacturing, computer science, robotics, and aviation related industries.
Similar to The MiLL model, these new learning labs will be developed through partnerships with industry and education so students can have the opportunity to obtain real-world skills and certifications for future employment.