Turners Falls’ Franklin County Technical School celebrated the completion of the school’s newly renovated and modernized Welding and Metal Fabrication program Friday.

“We had 50 or 60 people in a small group that were all supporters from the community [who] all work with us and partner with us. It was a fantastic joint effort,” said FCTS Superintendent Rick Martin.

It took years to get to this point.

John Passiglia, a welding instructor at Franklin County Tech, told 22News, “So our school was lucky enough to get the grant and have the opportunity to bring a program that’s 21st century technology here for our students, so they can get better-paying jobs and learn new skills that we normally wouldn’t have here.”

The state awarded Franklin County Tech nearly $500,000 to modernize their metal shop. The new equipment includes a robotic welding arm and a 90-ton Piranha Press Brake to bend steel.

The grant also supported a 1,400 square foot expansion of the shop program.

And in today’s industry, there’s demand for state-of-the-art skills.

“Well they’re going to be going from hands-on equipment to computer numerical controlled operations on saws, press brakes, a new robot and some of the other equipment in the shop,” said Lorin Burrows, who is also a welding instructor at Franklin County Tech.

“There’s a lot of shops out there that have this equipment. It’s good for us to be able to learn on something modern that we’re going to be able to see in the workforce,” added Sophomore Joe Boyden.

Franklin County Tech was one of 32 schools to receive funding for vocational equipment and programs.