MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - Starting this year, the Moss Point School District will offer more opportunities for students who are interested in courses and careers in engineering. The school just learned that it is one of only five schools in Mississippi to receive a $200,000 grant from the state Department of Education. It is also the only school from South Mississippi on the list this year. The funds will allow the school to move forward with plans to create an Engineering Academy.
Moss Point High started its engineering and robotics program last year, along with a pre-engineering Gateway course at Magnolia Middle School. Now, the $200,000 MDE grant will allow the high school to expand the program by establishing an Engineering Academy.
"I was really excited, because we really wanted that grant. We wanted to offer more things to the students, and this grant will allow us to offer engineering 8th -12 grade for all of our students who are interested in engineering," said Dr. Durand Payton.
Payton is the school's Career and Technical Education Director. He said most of the grant money will be used to purchase state-of-the-art equipment.
"The robotic arm, we're really excited about that. Things such as computers, Promethean board, the mill machine, which basically allows you to work with some metals and some types of wood," said Payton.
Another item on the wish list is an engraving machine. Payton said once students are exposed to the latest technology, that may open up their minds to other career options.
"This program will allow them to look at those different fields and see which one better suits them. Everyone's not going to be a doctor. Everyone's not going to be a lawyer. Engineers, they make a very good living," he said.
By putting the additional resources in the hands of students, who knows what those future engineers and robot designers can do.
"Which is one reason we wanted to upgrade and increase our engineering program, because of our kids. They're doing great things with it," said Payton. "We worked hard. We got our partners involved, board of supervisors, Singing River Hospital, Chevron, Mississippi State, all of them have partnered with Moss Point in developing this grant, and so we were very happy to receive it."
Payton said students who successfully complete the Engineering Academy and meet certain grade, behavior, and attendance requirements, can be eligible for a two-year CTE scholarship to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.