The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded a grant to The Career and Technical Education School (CTEC) for rural community colleges. Under the grant, CTEC utilized the grant for the Applied Pre-Engineering (AAS degree) and Integrated Systems Engineering Technician (Certificate) programs by creating paid internships with local companies.
The design of the Applied Pre-Engineering program is to provide students with a working knowledge of engineering concepts. The Integrated Systems Engineering Technician program prepares individuals to apply basic engineering principles and technical skill to the identification and resolution of production problems in the manufacture of products. Seven internships were created with three local companies: American Archery Enterprises in Prescott Valley, which manufacture computer numeric controlled parts; Merit Engineering in Prescott, manufacturer of concrete saws; and RESA Wearables in Prescott, maker of 3D-printed Insoles. Students working under the NSF grant earn $14.25 per hour and currently can work up to 10 hours per week during the school term. The grant runs through May of 2019.
Another part of the grant requirement was a company mentor. The mentor provided a guiding force within the company to help assure the success of the student in the workplace. All of the participating companies, based on student surveys, provided such an environment.
An Applied Pre-Engineering student responded, “Working with professionals with lots of experience allowed me to gain additional information about working in this field.” Another quote from a student: “Working in a place that requires me to do hands-on work made me more excited about continuing in my field of study.”
An additional major requirement under the National Science Foundation grant is the assessing the student interns with the ACT WorkKeys. The ACT WorkKeys National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) Assessments measure foundational skills required for success in the workplace, and help measure the workplace skills that can affect job performance. The NCRC assesses in three major areas – Applied Math, Graphic Literacy and Workplace Documents. The awarded credential has four levels (Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze) and verifies skills proficiency in:
- Problem solving
- Critical thinking
- Reading and using work-related text
- Applying information from workplace documents to solve problems
- Applying mathematical reasoning to work-related problems
- Setting up and performing work-related mathematical calculations
- Locating, synthesizing, and applying information that is presented graphically
- Comparing, summarizing and analyzing information presented in multiple related graphics
These are some of the same skills that students learn in the Applied Pre-Engineering and Integrated Systems Engineering Technician programs.
Research shows that employers benefit from understanding and using the ACT WorkKeys NCRC, including better quality hires, reduced turnover, shortened training periods and increased performance ratings for skilled workers.
Use of the WorkKeys assessments has enabled the interns to be better prepared for success in the workplace, to have a better understanding of how their academics can be applied in the workplace and to have the work experience that can help them in their academic work.
The School of Career and Technical Education at Yavapai College provides instruction in areas of study such as automotive, fire science, film and media arts, machining, unmanned aerial systems and more. Get more information about what Yavapai College has to offer at yc.edu/cte. QCBN
By Jim Voska
Jim Voska (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Career Coach for technical programs at Yavapai College’s Career and Technical Education School. Linda Brannock (email@example.com) is a Career Coach at Yavapai College, Enrollment Services.