CASPER, Wyo. — A remarkable project that showcased creativity, teamwork and technical expertise came to fruition over the summer as a group of Natrona County School District students and staff joined forces with the Casper Mountain Lions Club to design and construct an upper bridge for the Casper Mountain Lee McCune Braille Trail, according to the NCSD website.
From conception to installation, the project spanned the school year, involving extensive research, meticulous planning and hands-on construction to transform the vision into reality. Students across welding, manufacturing, engineering and construction classes worked in harmony, meticulously piecing together the bridge, which was installed in July.
The journey began with engineering students crafting drawings and design plans. William Pollock, a 2023 graduate, took the lead by employing SolidWorks to create a 3D model of the bridge. Collaborating with input from the Lions Club and Rob Hill, a teacher from the Pathways Innovation Center Core Construction, a true-to-life model was crafted to guide the construction process.
Subsequently, welding students focused on the fabrication and welding aspects, while construction students handled the concrete work and plank decking. The project was a true testament to hard work, collaboration and collective effort.
The installation itself was a community endeavor, involving students, teachers, volunteers and other community members who collectively contributed with enthusiasm and a sense of shared purpose.
Jon Vance, a welding teacher at the Pathways Innovation Center, expressed his satisfaction with the collaborative venture.
“This application was a great joint project for our CTE programs. The bridge will be a lasting item that students and the community can enjoy for a long time. This project was a great opportunity for real-world applications,” Vance stated. “The students designed the bridge in Mr. Dye’s design class and then were able to construct the bridge using the blueprint. It was fun to see how excited the students were to be able to lay out and weld on the project in class.”
Kyle Dye, a Manufacturing teacher at Pathways Innovation Center, emphasized the educational and communal value of the project.
“I think that having students involved in projects like these helps them gain an understanding of how important it is to give back to our community. I want them to learn through real-world experiences and build a sense of community along the way. We need to build a sense of community and teach students how important it is to give back, volunteer, and be part of making our own community a better place. They learn so much about partnerships, working as a team, and seeing something coming together,” Dye stated.
“When you have a group of people who work together to create a solution, it is amazing how much we can do,” Hill stated. “We are very proud of the high-level work the students did to complete the project — especially considering how many different programs contributed. The quality of workmanship is exceptional, and we hope the bridge will remain in place long into the future thanks to the foresight of the Lions Club and the dedication of Pathways students.”
“Pathways Innovation Center is an extension of Natrona County’s high school system. Pathways Innovation Center is focused on preparing tomorrow’s workforce through academic, career, and technical studies by providing students with an authentic and rigorous learning environment in order to graduate productive citizens who are college, career, and military-ready,” states NCSD’s website.
The trail itself was the dream of Lion Beecher “Ed” Strube, who envisioned creating a pathway that would allow visually impaired individuals to experience the natural beauty of the wilderness.
Additionally, it aims to provide those without visual impairments with a better understanding of navigating the world with such challenges.
The half-mile loop features 36 interpretive signs, which display information in both Braille and regular text.
The contributions of Double D Welding and Fabrication and Bar D Signs, who generously donated their time and equipment, helped to ensure the project’s success.