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SCC Student Makes Old Technology New Again When Hard Times Hit

Jason GrantAs technology evolves, we are losing our roots.

Jason Grant, a Somerset Community College student, made that statement when describing a ram pump he engineered for his farm. Using technology originating back to the 1800s, Grant combined old technology with modern parts to come up with a solution to a problem he was faced with when watering his cattle.

Grant, age 42, lost his job when the Jamestown Fruit of the Loom factory closed down in 2014.

I thought I was going to lose my farm and my house, Grant said. I started doing everything I could to save money.

While trying to save money, Grant realized that he was spending more than $50 each month to water his cattle. That expense, he said, was one he simply couldn't afford after losing his maintenance position at the plant.

I had to move my cattle off the cliffs a few years back, so I had to use city water in my troughs, said Grant, who lives in Egypt, Kentucky. They were calving on the hillside and it was too dangerous.

Water was available at the bottom of the cliff thanks to a natural spring and creek that runs into Adair Countys Snake Creek and eventually Green River Lake, he said. In order to get it to the cattle, though, Grant had to pump it up a hillside nearly 80 feet in elevation.

Never one to give up, Grant and a friend began looking at ways to pump the water up the hill.

I didn't want to give up my cattle, said Grant.

He began working with the ram pump idea and is now able to successfully use the force of the flowing creek to provide more than 215 gallons of water per day to his small farm.

I didnt invent this technology, Grant said. I just found it and put it to use.

A ram pump, Grant said, is a cyclic water pump powered by water power. It takes no outside source of power other than the energy of the flowing water to make the pump work. According to howstuffworks.com and Borst Engineerings website, which provides free calculators for building a DIY ram pump, you must have a source of water situated above the pump for the pump to work. The pump has a valve that allows water to flow through this pipe and build up speed, which then causes the valve to shut, building pressure that opens a second valve and pushes out water.

The pump runs 24/7, said Grant. Luckily, this branch of the creek has never been dry since Ive been here, which is 20 years.

Now, Grant is putting his love for learning and finding ways to make things work by getting his associates degree from Somerset Community College in Industrial Maintenance through the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program. The TAA program was designed to assist workers who lost their jobs, such as with the Fruit of the Loom factory closing.

The adjustment from provider to student, though, has been hard for Grant.

I was about a year away from getting the job I always wanted on the shift I wanted when I lost my job, said Grant, who is expected to graduate from SCC in May. Its been 20 years since I was in school. Luckily I have a supportive family.

Grants son Owen, a junior at Adair County High School, often helps him with his math, he said, and his son Jayce, a student at Lindsey Wilson College, and wife Wendy also help. Wendy, though, is fighting a battle with cancer, making Grant even more committed to finishing his degree.

I feel mostly ashamed for losing my job, Grant said. When I was working, everything was on my shoulders, then my wife had to carry us. I felt like Id failed my duty.

But, God has provided. He had a plan for us, said Grant.

Through all of it, Grant said he wants other students to recognize the opportunity they have to attend college.

I have a hard time with kids who have the opportunity to do something with their life and they cant show up to class, he said. If someone like me can do it with everything I have on my plate, then there aren't any excuses.

Grants instructors at SCC say he is an ideal, hard-working student. Likewise, he credits much of his success to his instructors.

The industrial maintenance program instructors are great and very knowledgeable, said Grant. I would encourage anyone interested in the maintenance or welding field to look close at SCC. It is a challenging field with instructors who demand a high degree of effort.