WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — Students in Warner Robins are diving into textbooks and learning the ropes of what it takes to be an industrial engineer. In the Houston County Career Academy Industrial Maintenance program, the learning goes past the reading in textbooks and out into the lab. 

So when students come out of the classroom, they take what they learned in textbooks to use for hands on learning on similar equipment used in plants like Frito-Lay. 

They're learning to repair equipment, troubleshoot, and keep up maintenance on equipment. Jeffrey Wyne, a senior at Northside High School says, "It's a lot easier to learn doing hands on things instead of just reading it out of a textbook or getting lectured."

The program is helping kids with earning high school and college credit, as well as preparing students for entry level positions right out of college. The job offers pay above minimum wage with benefits. 

 "You're actually learning. You get to remember it because you're doing hands-on and you're actually seeing what it's going to be like in the real world," says Houston County High School senior, Griffin Arnold. 

Craig Hoffman, the Plant Engineer at Frito-Lay in Perry, says the demand is high for manufacturing jobs, but the supply of qualified workers is low.

"Individuals don't have to go to college and get an engineering or doctorate degree. We need those, but we also need skilled crafts to help manufacturing industry survive in America," says Hoffman. 

The program's first year resulted in 7 out of 16 students going into the workforce out of high school.

Hoffman says, "This helped them hit the ground running and be of value from day one that they joined the plant, versus showing up and not really knowing what to do, and everything you see in the lab here is exactly what we have in the plant, so there's a comfort level."

The program looks to build the number of students going down the industrial maintenance path every year.

The program is hosting a career fair next Tuesday February 5th from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Houston County Career Academy off Corder Road.