SHS senior earns local manufacturing job

SHS senior earns local manufacturing job

On a job shadowing day in middle school, Tyler Mills first held welding equipment in his hands.

“[The owner] let me weld. That’s the first time I ever welded,” Mills said.

Little did he know, the job shadowing was a foreshadowing of a career in welding. The Scottsburg High School senior was recently offered a welding position at Thomas Plastic Machinery Inc.

“I was at a buddy’s house working on a car. I left a weld at his house, and his dad saw it. His dad asked him who did the weld and wanted to talk to me,” Mills said.

The discussion about Mills’ welding ability turned into a job for him at the Scottsburg-based, family-owned business.

“I actually get to build stuff,” Mills said.

Starting in Mills’ eighth-grade and freshman year, Mills became increasing more interested in welding after that job shadowing day. His stepfather, who fabricates and welds often, worked with him and taught him some of the beginnings Mills needed to be successful later on, and his father encouraged him as he went along.

“I like building stuff, and it be useful. Welding is part of it,” Mills said.

From those rudimentary lessons, Mills took advantage of the offerings that Scottsburg High School provided through the Prosser program. By attending Prosser for half of the school day, students are able to receive additional technical, trades, and vocational training for careers in 24 different career programs, including Manufacturing. The students, who attend Prosser through SHS’ participation in the program, can receive college credits and national certifications relevant to their future careers.

“If they didn’t offer Prosser, I wouldn’t be where I am working,” Mills said.

For the last two years, Mills has been learning, growing, and honing in his welding skills. He said he spends most of his time in prepping metal, making sure it fits and is clean, and doing math — important steps before one begins making the weld.

“If it’s not together, it won’t fit right,” Mills said.

In the last two years at Prosser, Mills said learned how to do it all — shielded metal arc welding, gas tungsten arc welding, and gas metal arc welding. He even learned how to do it despite being born with arthrogryposis, where a child has joint contractures.

“My muscles did not keep up with my body in the womb,” Mills said.

Because of his condition, Mills had to learn a different way on how to do everyday things and how to make welding work for him.

“I do a lot of stuff different. I hold my welder in a way that most people would say is wrong. But, my welds are just as good. I won a weld off last year at Prosser.”

However, he does not let the arthrogryposis define him or limit him.

“I think everything’s mental. You have to tell yourself you can do it,” Mills said. “Just because you look like you can’t do something, doesn’t mean you can’t. My parents were told I wouldn’t do anything when I was born. They didn’t listen to that.”

With diligence, mental toughness, and perfecting his skills, Mills earned a job in a career that can last a lifetime. At Scott County School District 2, Mills’ story is our story. Your story matters. You matter.