For dual enrollment student, Jayden Slaughter, 17, being tasked to build a smoker alongside his fellow students was both exciting — and daunting.

“At first I was very nervous,” Slaughter said, “because I had only done one project before [with GPTC], and since this was a big project, I felt the pressure.”

Fortunately for Slaughter, he did not have to accomplish this monumental feat alone. Joined by two other dual enrollment students: Brian Johnson, 16, and Richard Bennett, 17 and instructor, Weygand Grant,  the smoker was completed in 56 days, roughly two months of work, four hours dedicated each day.

The smoker’s completion was made possible by the generous donation of four axles from Dexter Axle, a manufacturer based in Monticello, Ga. The donation was valued for around $1,000.

“I think it’s great what they’re doing [at GPTC],” Vince Moore, Dexter Axle representative said, “that the students are learning and we’re glad to be a part of that.” The axle manufacturer looks forward to being involved with more community projects and supporting them.

Although the experience of building the smoker began with uncertainty and unease for the dual enrollment students, Grant’s deft guidance, and being equipped with the learned skills and knowledge made all the difference.

“Building the smoker helped build my confidence,” Slaughter said with a smile.

“The project is all about the students,” Grant said. “This is what Georgia Piedmont Technical College welding program and projects are all about.”

The smoker, valued at $9,000 has been donated to the GPTC Foundation and will be raffled off in spring of 2023.

“I think it’s pretty powerful that the students can see local companies investing in them,” President Tavarez Holston said. “Our students take the materials and apply it to their learning with the end result being something that they can put on display and be proud of.”