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03/11/08 Catapults launch students’ interest in highly-paid local technical careers

 

03/11/08 Catapults launch students’ interest in highly-paid local technical careers

   
Sierra College CACT Tech-Explorer & mobile shop inspire Bear River Students

ROCKLIN – Bear River High School students in Grass Valley, CA will learn basic manufacturing skills on Thursday, March 13 at 10 AM and will be introduced to some the highest paid careers in Nevada County. Students will use mills, lathes, drills and other tools to cut, form and assemble metals parts to make catapults.

The goal is to excite students about the tremendous career opportunities in developing and manufacturing products as well as designing, maintaining and repairing automated equipment. The Sierra College Center for Applied Competitive Technologies (CACT) developed the hands-on project to inspire students to seek highly paid technical careers in robotics, engineering, design, electronics, manufacturing and product development.

Manufacturing jobs have the highest average wage in Nevada County according to the Nevada County Economic Resource Council (ncerc.org). In 2005, manufacturing represented 6.6% of jobs in the county and the highest average wages -- $48,152. (Nevada County Economic and Social Indicator Review 2007, page 15 - 2005 Employment Development Department, ES202 Data)

There is a growing need for technically adept people according to Gil Matthew, President and CEO of the Nevada County Economic Resource Council. “Sierra College has been a front runner in building the workforce of the future,” said Matthew. “This Tech-Explorer program is an entry point for high school students to explore technology.”

Theresa Wescott, human resources manager for Thomson - Grass Valley, Inc. in Nevada City agrees that there is a rising demand for technically qualified employees. “There are excellent opportunities for young people who pursue technical education,” said Wescott.

Thomson - Grass Valley, Inc. director of operations and technology, Stephan Povio agrees. “Despite the news about the economy, drops in the stock market and the housing market crisis in general, I continue to read articles in the electronics industry trade magazines that show there are still lot of engineering & technical jobs available in the electronics industry,” said Povio. “This is particularly true of the telecommunications, aerospace and defense sectors. Well trained engineers are always in demand.”

Sierra College recognizes the leadership it can provide in promoting the value of technical education, according to Neal Albee, Dean Nevada County Campus. “We know that it is critical to reach K-12 students at the youngest possible age to expose them to educational and career opportunities,” said Albee.

Principal Jim Nieto of Bear River High School said that the students who are participating are part of the Business Partnership program and will benefit from the applied academics in this project. “The CACT Tech-Explorer project gives students the opportunity to apply the skills that they are learning in their partnership classes in a real world setting,” said Nieto. “Geometry makes sense when you use a protractor to measure the angle of the catapult arm. This project lets students learn by doing and reinforces what they’ve been learning with practical application.”

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. CACT 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. Find the video and information at (http://sierracollegetraining.com/techexp_program.php).

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) 781-6244.

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 916-781-6244.

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Sierra College Center for Applied Competitive Technologies and Economic and Workforce Development
(916) 660-7801
Sierra College Training & Development
Sierra College Center for Applied Competitive Technologies (CACT)
  Placer, Nevada and parts of El Dorado and Sacramento Counties
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