More students seek out tech ed

October 2, 2013

From “More students seek out tech. education program” — By Hillary Gavan – More Beloit students are enrolling in technical education classes thanks to the newly renovated Technical Education Programming Space in Beloit Memorial High School’s lower level and the district’s renewed commitment to promoting the skilled trades as a career option for students.

“We are investing in Career and Technical Education and are making changes as needed to provide students with the best path to a potential career opportunity,” said Ryan Rewey, the School District of Beloit’s new career and technical education director.

This October, in honor of manufacturing month, Beloit Memorial High School (BMHS) students will be participating in a career fair and expo at the school, visiting two local manufacturers on National Manufacturing Day and welcoming State Superintendent Tony Evers for a tour.

Rewey said there is energy and excitement surrounding the new space as the department has brought on new educators and is already offering students more opportunities to partner with local business.

Last year BMHS had 935 students go through the Technology and Engineering area, and this year it has 973 students who have signed up.

“We expect this number to continue to increase as our program begins to take off,” Rewey said.

This fall students were able to choose from four technical education career paths — machining, building construction, manufacturing and a new career path of computer repair and information technology (CISCO). After completing four to five classes in each area, students should be ready to be employed immediately after graduation or could apply their course work toward a degree at a school such as Blackhawk Technical College. There are also a series of engineering courses for students who are interested in pursuing an engineering-related career path.

Efforts to get more students enrolling in technical education classes are already under way. Students will be participating in the First Annual Career and Technical Education Fair set for 9 – 11 a.m. Thursday at BMHS. The event coincides with the Wisconsin Education Fair, which will feature four-year universities, colleges, technical colleges and other post-secondary schools. The students will have a two-hour block to visit both fairs to learn about possible careers and the skills and education necessary to obtain them.

Then on Friday 38 students will be heading to Regal Cutting Tools and Forest City Gear in Roscoe for National Manufacturing Day to get a look at the jobs available in a real work setting.

On Oct. 28 State Superintendent Tony Evers will be coming through the newly upgraded facilities in honor of manufacturing month.

On Monday students such as junior Logan Engel were learning to use a horizontal band saw and learning to weld in new instructor Chris Klatt’s class.

Engel said he is taking a welding class and two construction classes this year. He said he’d been waiting for the renovations to be complete before starting, and hopes to get an internship with Corporate Contractors Inc. (CCI) this summer. He not only plans to make good money by learning the trades, but said he learns more in technical education classes with more hands-on work.

“I learn better working by myself and learning from my own mistakes,” he said.

The Welding and CNC Lab has been expanded and is up and running with 17 welding stations that include brand new miller tungsten inert gas (TIG) and metal inert gas (MIG) machines as well as updated ventilation.

Although students have been learning how to weld but are waiting to use the 12 new CNC mills and lathes until the district gets the necessary tooling purchased. For now, Rewey said students are learning the principles of running the Haas training panels and learning about G-Code and M-Code, the programming languages for CNC.

At the newly remodeled Construction Lab students are already working on building scale models of homes in their beginning construction class with Will Neiers, an instructor who is newly full-time with the district this year. Neiers said there are many more students in his basic carpentry and carpentry techniques classes this year, probably because of the new facilities. In the newly remodeled Woods Lab, for example, students will learn millwork, cabinetry and more.

Rewey said he would like to have a program model similar to the construction program offered in Janesville where local contractors could get involved and students could build a home to sell. Any profits made from the sale of the home could go back into the Technical Education Program as well as scholarships for students pursuing the skilled trades.

Rewey said the department is focused on exposing more students to the courses available through tours, participation in National Manufacturing Day, the career expo and more. There are also efforts under way to attract more female students to the program. Just this fall the district hired Tammy Spoerk to teach engineering and blue print reading. Spoerk, a former computer aided drafting (CAD) business owner, has plans to get a robotics team back at BMHS next year and take students on more trips to universities.

She encourages parents and community members to come see the type of high skilled work students are actually doing as she said people would be surprised how advanced course work is and how far students will go if they are empowered to be leaders.



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