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It’s not every day that you get to sit in a Black Hawk helicopter, but that was the case for a group of 28 Columbia High School students on Friday.

Students from Modern Mechanisms and Design Drawing for Production as well as CCNA and IT Essentials which are part of Columbia’s STEM Academy, attended National Manufacturing Day at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute along with other local high schools.

Columbia’s students walked briskly through the quad toward the U.S. Army helicopter where it had landed just hours earlier. They climbed into the cockpit and examined the different parts of the $25 million machine.

Earlier in the morning, they heard from Ryan Patry, Manager of Manufacturing Technology for Manufacturing Engineering at Sikorsky Aircraft which designs and builds the Black Hawk helicopter.

After the keynote address, students broke into small groups and took tours of various manufacturing facilities on campus.

“Our students were able to see the connections of what we are starting here and how it is applied in modern manufacturing,” said Career and Technology Education Chair Steve Ford. “They recognized many of the machines and software that we are using in our own program.”