Sierra College CACT Tech-Explorer & mobile shop teach applied academics
ROCKLIN – At Oakmont High School in Roseville on January 17 from 7:30 to 9:30 AM, students will use mills, lathes, drills and other equipment to cut, form and assemble metals parts to make catapults. Many students have never used these tools, made anything from raw materials or thought about how items such as cell phones and MP3 players are designed, fabricated and assembled. As students experience practical application of academic concepts, they may discover an interest in engineering, design, manufacturing and technology careers.
The goal of the Tech-Explorer project is to inspire students to consider technical careers and fill the businesses’ need for skilled workers. Sierra College Center for Applied Competitive Technologies (CACT) (www.sierracollegetraning.com) developed the hands-on program and has already offered it at Colfax, Iowa Hill and Mammoth high schools. Students said: “I learned how to use a lot of new machines,” “I’d never done a project like this,” and “I think it would be fun to go into engineering now.”
Colfax teachers were similarly enthused: “It was awesome to see the kids’ excitement about the project. They were engaged for the whole class period. They collaborated and problem solved together,” said Tony Martello. “This is a great program. In math, it is really nice for the kids to see the applications firsthand,” said Jonathon Schwartz.
The CACT Tech-Explorer project was developed to attract students to technical careers by giving them a successful experience using power tools and assembling the catapult. California manufacturers need qualified technical workers according to James Cox of James Cox & Sons, Inc. “There are a lot of job openings because people are retiring and the market is expanding,” said Cox. “It is extremely important that students get exposed to this. The work is interesting and the pay scale is very good.”
The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics indicates that jobs requiring science, engineering or technical training will increase by more than 24 percent to 6.3 million by 2014.
This short-term, turn-key project makes it easy for teachers to engage students, introduce technology and suggest careers while meeting State of California secondary education standards. Tech-Explorer can be offered in English, history, math and science classes. Sierra College CACT provides trainers, shop tools, materials, safety gear and curriculum standards, making it attractive to teachers without technical backgrounds. The manual catapult can also be modified with electrical, solar and electronic modules.
The Sierra College CACT secured a grant of $121,000 per year for two years from the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, Economic Development and Workforce Preparation Division (www.cccco.edu) to establish this demonstration project. The demand is so high for the new program that Sierra College CACT is seeking additional sponsors so it can be offered in more schools locally. For more information, contact Sandra Scott, Sierra College Workforce Development and Continuing Education at (916) 660-7801.
Once the pilot is completed, the Tech-Explorer projects will be available to schools through California’s twelve Centers for Applied Competitive Technologies (CACT.org). The mission of the Center for Applied Competitive Technologies is to support companies with employee training, technology deployment and industry development. Since 1997, the Sierra College CACT has supported manufacturers and technology companies in Northern California from Sacramento to the Oregon border. For more information, go to www.sierracollegetraining.com or call 916-660-7801.