Leveling-Up Construction Technologies at Willis ISD

There’s a saying, “you need the right tool for the job.” It’s a trivial statement but it has great implications that can lead to failure or purpose and success. For Willis ISD’s Construction Technologies program, the right tools for the job were a combination of personnel, a grant and new equipment.


Three years ago, Mr. Stephen Hilliard joined Willis ISD as the lead faculty for the Construction Technologies program. He subsequently applied for and received a “shop reboot” grant from Skills USA, which was put to work with purpose and effect. He was able

to update the program’s shop tools and add an American-made CNC from Forest CNC. What is a CNC you might ask? CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control, which means taking digitized data and a CAM program to control and automate the movements of a milling machine, lathe, router, waterjet cutter or any other machine that uses this type of control system to process wood, metal, acrylic…etc. Moreover, a CNC is a common industrial automation system that many CTE-focused students will encounter in a multitude of career pathways. Many of the items in your home, like furniture, or items you use every day were made with a CNC.


Organizing the right tools, Mr. Hilliard was able to take the Construction Technologies program to a new level. The students embraced the added equipment and expanded technology, setting out on a learning path that would take them to the Montgomery County Fair with award-winning projects. Since revamping this program, Mr. Hilliard’s students have won Grand Champion, have received Honorable Mention and this past year had two of the top ten projects out of around 80 wood-working projects from Montgomery County area ISD’s. Likewise, all of Mr. Hilliard’s students who entered their projects and subsequently placed them in the Montgomery County Fair auction had their projects sell for profit. Of which, those profits go back into strengthening the Construction Technologies program. By the way, one student created an electric guitar that sold for $3k, wow!



What’s Mr. Hilliard’s vision for “what’s next” for the Construction Technologies program? He plans to expand collaboration with other departments or programs for projects, this past year they made a “buddy bench” for an elementary school and made a trophy case for the football team. He also plans to further expand teaching into furniture and cabinet making. Likewise, I’m certain you’ll continue to see the students’ achieving more heights at the Montgomery County Fair and in the various career pathways they pursue after leaving the Construction Technologies program.


Mr. Hilliard wants to extend a special thanks to Skills USA for the grant that made his vision possible. Lab Resources wants to thank you Mr. Hilliard for what you’ve achieved during your tenure at Willis ISD and for your military service as an airborne infantry veteran with the US Army.


Lab Resources specializes in maker equipment; sales, service and training: CNC machines, SLA & SLS 3D printers, metal 3D printers, wide format printers, direct to garment printers, laser engravers/cutters and more. If you want to learn more about Forest CNC equipment and its advantages including cost, reliability and a 3-year warranty, click here.