Monthly Archives: June 2021

CareerTech Champions

Nicholas Mullaney – Granite Skills Centers

Ex-offender credits welding instructor for sparking his interest in learning.

Then: An addict, incarcerated for dealing drugs. Nicholas Mullaney served his time and was released from prison three years ago, taking with him much more than his freedom. Mullaney completed the metal manufacturing/welding program at Granite Skills Center and said his instructor, Martin “Chipper” Nickell, taught him the skills he would need to land a decent paying job after his release.

“He was an amazing instructor with a great heart,” Mullaney said. “I was lucky to have had the opportunity to have him as my instructor before his passing.”

At Granite Skills Center, Mullaney

  • Learned how to weld. He said he had never touched welding equipment before entering the program.
  • Gained self-confidence, knowing he would be able to land a good-paying job with his new skills.
  • Became motivated to continue learning.

“After realizing I could absorb so much knowledge,” Mullaney said, “it sparked my interest to expand my knowledge even more.”

Mullaney is working on a college degree in marketing and professional sales and has maintained a 4.0 GPA.

Hired as a welding fabricator at Metro Sign Corporation, Mullaney was later moved to the install team. He was recently honored with the company’s Employee Spotlight, and has received several pay increases since he started in 2018, as well as Christmas bonuses.  

Now: He has paid health benefits at Metro Sign, and a company phone. Mullaney has his CDL permit, and when he completes the CDL test, he will receive another pay raise.

Mullaney rents a home and owns two vehicles, and he and his fiancé are expecting a baby boy this spring.

“My life has changed tremendously since this program. CareerTech gave me a skill I can take with me the rest of my life; no matter what happens in my future, that skill will always be there.”

Nicholas Mullaney, welding fabricator

Indian Capital Technology Center surg tech student Ciarra Towry awarded a national scholarship

Ciarra Towry, Indian Capital Technology Center surgical technology student

Ciarra Towry, Indian Capital Technology Center Surgical Technology student, was awarded a national student scholarship from the ARC/STSA (Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting) Scholarship Program. Only 10 students nationwide received the $500 scholarship.

ICTC Superintendent Tony Pivec said, “We want to congratulate Ciarra on this tremendous honor. The fact that only 10 students nationwide receive this scholarship says a lot about her qualifications for this award.” ICTC Board of Education Vice-President Tom Stiles said, “On behalf of the ICTC Board, I want to commend Ms. Towry for her academic excellence. This is a great achievement.”

The Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (ARC/STSA) is committed to advancing surgical technology and surgical assisting education for individuals entering and working within the professions. The ARC/STSA Scholarship Program is designed to assist AST or ASA student members pursuing their education in CAAHEP-accredited surgical technology or surgical assisting programs.

CareerTech Champions

Larry Capps – Gordon Cooper Technology Center

CareerTech drove this shop manager to get his college degree.

THEN: His parents expected him to go to a four-year college and earn a degree. Larry Capps wasn’t sure that was what he wanted; he knew his true passion was working on cars. One afternoon when Capps was working on a friend’s car, he realized he was doing exactly what he wanted to do in the future.

Luckily, Capps’ mom didn’t stand in his way. She encouraged him to check out the automotive program at Gordon Cooper Technology Center, and he took her advice. He enrolled in the program, and when he graduated from Gordon Cooper Tech, he went on to get his associate degree at Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology.

Capps said the GCTC program

  • Taught him core fundamentals of automotive repair.
  • Helped him develop leadership skills.
  • Allowed him to work with some of the leading minds in the industry.
  • Showed him how to take initiative.

He credits CareerTech for much of his professional success. “The instructors at CareerTech were truly concerned with my growth and helped to ensure my skill set was honed for success in a dealership,” he said.

NOW: Capps is shop manager for Fowler Toyota in Norman. He said the core fundamentals he mastered at GCTC allowed for a smooth transition into the automotive industry.

“My passion for CareerTech has not diminished since I completed the program.”

Larry Capps, shop manager


In 2020, Fowler Toyota donated new cars to Moore Norman Technology Center and Tulsa Technology Center to help train automotive students.

CTSO officers attend CareerTech University

Oklahoma CareerTech student organization state officers recently attended CareerTech University at Camp Tulakogee in Wagoner, Oklahoma. Officers from all seven co-curricular CTSOs attended the conference, where they learned about goal-setting, time management, teamwork and presentation skills.

At CTU each year, officers participate in training sessions and group activities to help them lead their organizations. They also learn more about the Oklahoma CareerTech System during the event. CTU provides the student leaders an opportunity to come together and share ideas about how they can best represent the CareerTech System as a whole.

OEIP plans summer sessions

Oklahoma Education & Industry Partnership offers an outstanding professional development opportunity for Oklahoma educators each summer.

What is OEIP?  These events are the ultimate teacher/industry connections!  The mission is to create a pipeline for partnerships among educators, counselors, administrators, partners, students, industry leaders, government policy makers and members of the economic development community. See video here

CareerTech’s Oklahoma Education and Industry Partnerships has planned five sessions this summer covering the film industry, construction trades, manufacturing and health, aerospace and automotive industries.

Sessions will be June 10 at Green Pasture Studios in Spencer, June 16 on Zoom, July 15 at MidAmerica Industrial Park and Northeast Technology Center, July 20-22 at Metro Technology Centers and July 26 at Oklahoma City Community College.

Film Industry

When:  June 10
Where:  Green Pasture Studios, Spencer
What:  Industry Panel Studio Tour

Registration Link

Construction Trades

When:  June 16
Where:  Zoom
What:  Industry Panel Studio Tour

Registration Link:  Coming Soon


When:  July 15
Where:  Mid America Industrial Park & Northeast Technology Center
What:  Industry Panel Studio Tour

Registration Link:  Coming Soon

Health, Film and Aerospace 

When:  July 20 – 22
Where:  Metro Technology Center, Oklahoma City
What:  Aerospace Commission, Unmanned Safety Institute, Tech Labs, Scott Sabolich Prosthetics Research, UCO Forensics

Registration Link:  Coming Soon


When:  July 26
Where: Oklahoma City Community College
What:   Industry Speakers, Program Tours

Registration Link:  Coming Soon

CareerTech employee receives Air Force Association STEM education award

Oklahoma CareerTech’s STEM program manager recently received an award for her work promoting STEM education.

The Air Force Association Central Oklahoma Gerrity Chapter presented Tonja Norwood with the Gerrity Chapter President’s STEM Education Award. Pictured are, from left, Col. Michael Tiemann, vice commander of the 72nd Air Base Wind; Norwood; and Janelle Stafford, AFA Central Oklahoma Gerrity Chapter president.

The Air Force Association Central Oklahoma Gerrity Chapter presented Tonja Norwood with the Gerrity Chapter President’s STEM Education Award.

Norwood has been the program manager for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education at the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education since 2018. She previously served as an information technology program specialist in ODCTE’s Business, Marketing and Information Technology Education Division.

“Tonja has been instrumental in expanding STEM educational opportunities across the state,” said Marcie Mack, CareerTech state director. “Her dedication and leadership are vital to the success of our students, educators and future workforce. Tonja is very deserving of this award and recognition from AFA. We are honored to partner with them for the betterment of our state.”

Oklahoma CareerTech has partnered with the AFA Central Oklahoma Gerrity Chapter to provide CyberPatriot and StellarXplorers, providing classroom space and equipment, volunteer instructors and more, said Janelle Stafford, president of the chapter.

“Because of CareerTech’s involvement, we have had a much wider and more pervasive reach for both programs,” Stafford said. “Tonja has been at the very heart of all of this with our chapter. She knows these programs inside and out. She put in the time to get both programs certified as curriculum for Oklahoma Promise credits. Most recently, she undertook the certification training for the STK software used in StellarXplorers just so she would understand it better — not an easy thing to do!”

Norwood is also leading an effort to establish a train-the-trainer summer camp for StellarXplorers and is involved in both CyberPatriot and StellarXplorer student camps this summer, Stafford said. The AFA chapter wanted to do something to show its appreciation for Norwood’s support, so it created the Gerrity Chapter President’s STEM Education Award, Stafford said.

“With the support of Tonja and CareerTech, the Gerrity Chapter will continue to grow STEM education in our state and invest in our future workforce,” she said.

About Oklahoma CareerTech

The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education provides leadership and resources and assures standards of excellence for a comprehensive statewide system of career and technology education. The system offers programs and services in 29 technology center districts operating on 59 campuses, 399 PK-12 school districts, 13 Skills Centers campuses that include three juvenile facilities and 32 adult basic education service providers.

The agency is governed by the State Board of Career and Technology Education and works closely with the State Department of Education and the State Regents for Higher Education to provide a seamless educational system for all Oklahomans.

CareerTech Champions

Cody McCuistion – Meridian Technology Center and BPA

Guthrie High School student said MTC technology program was “too cool to pass up.”

THEN: A lover of technology, long before high school. When Cody McCuistion heard he could spend half of each day at Meridian Technology Center learning more about what he already enjoyed in his spare time, it was an easy decision for the Guthrie High School student. But then, McCuistion discovered he was also going to earn 68 hours of college credit — while he was still in high school!

He enrolled in Meridian Tech’s network engineering program and joined Business Professionals of America, the CareerTech student organization affiliated with business, marketing and information technology education. McCuistion said he loved BPA and enjoyed competing at the state and national level.

He said the two-year program at Meridian Tech fast-tracked him to receive industry certifications, knowledge and experience. McCuistion

  • Received CompTIA A+ certification, Microsoft Server certifications and Cisco network training.
  • Graduated with a high school diploma and essentially a two-year associate degree in the same year, while only paying $5 per credit hour.
  • Gained confidence in his abilities through BPA.

“The program led to a jump-start in my career path,” he said.

Although technology has advanced since McCuistion was in school, he said he uses a variation of those network engineering skills every day.

NOW: A solution architect for Hitachi Vantara. McCuistion sets up and delivers proofs of concept and product demonstrations for Hitachi Vantara’s Unified Compute Platform suite of enterprise products.

He has designed and built various server deployments and worked in mission-critical scenarios to restore failed services or resolve performance, reliability or security issues. McCuistion also has experience in highly secure environments tied to the Department of Defense, identifying security vulnerabilities in deployments and engineering ways to close those holes.

McCuistion said CareerTech’s concurrent enrollment options offer students the opportunity to learn skills that apply immediately to their future success. He urged today’s young people to avoid accruing debt for education expenses whenever possible.

“Seek out training in skills that can generate an income stream now and use that income to pay for further education, if that’s wanted or needed down the road,” he said.

“CareerTech offers much-needed skills for today’s workforce. Don’t pass up the opportunity to take advantage of it!”

Cody McCuistion, Hitachi Vantara