Monthly Archives: February 2023

Women in Aviation

More women are joining the aviation and aerospace industry. They are astronauts, pilots, maintenance technicians, engineers, air traffic controllers and business owners. In this video on Oklahoma’s aerospace industry, we interviewed several women who are working in the industry or pursuing a career in aerospace. Here are their stories.

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 60 campuses, 391 PK-12 school districts, 15 Skills Centers campuses that include three juvenile facilities and 32 adult education and family literacy 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.

OkPTAC Becomes OkAPEX, But Mission Remains the Same

The Oklahoma Procurement Technical Assistance Center has a new name, but its mission is the same: to help Oklahoma businesses secure contracts and other sales worth billions of dollars with government entities.

OkPTAC is now Oklahoma APEX Accelerator, a name that the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education chose in coordination with a recent change in the federal grant program under the U.S. Department of Defense.

The Oklahoma Accelerator is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the Department of Defense, which changed the program name in November. The new name will help build a consistent awareness across federal agencies and local businesses, said Carter Merkle, OkAPEX program manager.

“The federal program management recently moved from one DoD agency to the highest levels of the Pentagon, giving the program new visibility. This also helps all of us connect more directly with the decision-makers in government to better assist our business clients,” he said. “Our core mission and our set of services remain the same.”

The Oklahoma CareerTech System’s technology centers have offered the program for more than 35 years, first as the Oklahoma Bid Assistance Network and then OkPTAC. The program regularly works with about 1,100 businesses each year, Merkle said.

The Oklahoma Accelerator funds 11 programs with 13 procurement counselors in technology centers across Oklahoma. The 13 counselors assist businesses through one-on-one counseling, training programs and business networking events.

The counselors help businesses find ways to be more competitive and new opportunities to pursue, help them be aware of regulatory requirements and help them avoid missteps that can cost them business. The program also helps government agencies connect with supply chains and helps larger prime contractors find smaller partners to complete complex projects and meet government-required small business subcontracting goals, Merkle said.

Information about the Oklahoma APEX Accelerator, including locations and contact information, is available at

CareerTech Champions

Brighton Snow – Mid-America Technology Center and BPA

Brighton Snow has his own production company and manages social media networks for large businesses. His company creates marketing videos, promotional graphics and advertising imagery for his clients. Not bad for a small-town boy with one semester of college under his belt.

Snow grew up in Washington, a south-central Oklahoma town with just over 600 people. He toured Mid-America Technology Center as an eighth grader, but he would have to wait more than two years before he could enroll.

He was so excited he could barely wait. Snow had a passion for multimedia, and when he discovered he could attend the tech center while he was in high school, he seized the opportunity.

“I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without CareerTech,” he said.

The hands-on learning environment appealed to Snow, who said he loved being able to learn with industry-leading technology.

“In the multimedia industry, technology is always improving and changing,” he said. “Mid-America gave me the resources to learn film production, graphic design and social media marketing. I can confidently create marketing videos, promotional graphics and advertising imagery using the career skills I’ve learned.”

Snow joined Oklahoma Business Professionals of America, serving as state president in 2021. He competed in BPA events, using skills such as using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, operating a camera and editing video. He has won nearly a dozen awards, including the title of world champion in social media management two years in a row.

In addition to his technical skills, Snow said, he also gained confidence.

“My adviser, Paxton Cavin, had a huge impact on me,” he said. “She always motivates me to be the best.”

That confidence helped Snow become one of only three Oklahoma students selected as U.S. Presidential Scholars in 2022.

He said CareerTech taught him the value of hard work, honesty and dedication, attributes he no doubt implements as he simultaneously runs a business and continues his education. Snow is enrolled at Oklahoma State University and after college plans to start a marketing company designed to help local farmers explore new marketing platforms.

“Local farmers often don’t know how to take advantage of social media,” he said. 

CareerTech Students Share Work-Based Learning Experiences

Three teams of students from two technology centers shared their work-based learning experiences in videos and won an Oklahoma CareerTech contest.

Winning teams were from the Tulsa Technology Center-Riverside Campus television production program and the Francis Tuttle Technology Center-Rockwell Campus broadcast video program. Each program was awarded $500.

The students produced videos sharing the benefits they have received from participating in work-based learning.

“CareerTech work-based learning experiences are extensions of the education and skills development students receive in their CareerTech programs,” said H.L. Baird, Oklahoma CareerTech work-based learning liaison. “WBL is a guided transition from simulation in the program to real-world experience. Mentors at places of business provide direction and evaluation to help students learn skills beyond classroom practice.”

Francis Tuttle Tech students highlighted their experiences in a video titled “Behind the Scenes at Thunder Media Day.” Their production was used in the final Thunder media day product, Baird said.

The two groups of Tulsa Tech students produced “A Taste of the Real World” and “Real World Experiences.”

All three videos can be seen on the Oklahoma CareerTech YouTube channel at

Oklahoma CareerTech held its first WBL video contest in fall 2020 to encourage students to share their work-based learning experiences in their own words.

To learn more about work-based learning, visit or contact Baird at 405-743-6812 or

Oklahoma CareerTech Continues Growth

The Oklahoma CareerTech System continues to grow as it offers educational programs to Oklahomans of all ages.

The CareerTech System is celebrating CareerTech Education Month in February. Gov. Kevin Stitt recently issued a proclamation declaring this month as Career and Technical Education Appreciation Month in Oklahoma.

“We strive every day to provide students with skills demanded by the labor market in Oklahoma,” said CareerTech State Director Brent Haken. “Bringing innovation to Oklahoma education is core to Oklahoma CareerTech’s mission to help students explore their interests and businesses meet their workforce needs.”

In Oklahoma, enrollment in CareerTech programs is up across the board, and memberships in CareerTech student organizations such as FFA and HOSA rose 20% in FY 2022 to 95,390 members. The increase in enrollments and CTSO memberships, Haken said, reflect a growing realization of the value of a CareerTech education and the need for curricula that emphasize career readiness.

“CareerTech programs and student organizations are designed to simultaneously provide students skills demanded in the labor market while preparing them for postsecondary degrees,” Haken said. “In addition to specific career-oriented classes, students are offered opportunities that include internships, apprenticeships and in-school programs aimed at fostering work readiness.”

Oklahoma CareerTech achievements in the past year include being named a CyberPatriot Center of Excellence by the Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot program in May. Participation in the Oklahoma CyberPatriot program has more than doubled under CareerTech’s leadership.

CareerTech began a partnership with Express Employment Professionals and the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development to create more work-based learning opportunities for students. Students in the program are employed by Express and serve as contract employees for worksite employers, reducing liability for employers and opening more opportunities for students.

CareerTech also launched Get Skilled Now, an online platform that allows students and employers to find each other for work-based learning opportunities.

Also in the past year, Oklahoma CareerTech received $8.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to expand programs to address the state’s nursing workforce shortage, $5 million to create a program to train broadband infrastructure installation workers and $6.2 million to expand its truck driver training program. CareerTech awarded $4.5 million to schools, technology centers and educators in lottery grants and scholarships.

CareerTech serves nearly half a million students through a network of 391 school districts, 29 technology centers, 15 skills centers and 32 adult education and family literacy providers. CareerTech also serves Oklahomans through its business and industry programs.

Enrollment in the 29 technology center districts was 298,675 in FY 2022. Enrollment in CareerTech courses in PK-12 schools totaled 127,875 in FY 2022, with 83,580 students in ninth through 12th grades enrolled in CareerTech classes.

In FY 2022, more than 95,000 students participated in CareerTech’s seven co-curricular CTSOs: Business Professionals of America, DECA, Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, FFA, HOSA, SkillsUSA and Technology Student Association.

More than 8,900 people enrolled in adult education and family literacy classes offered by 32 providers around Oklahoma; the courses help adults become literate, earn their high school equivalencies and obtain the skills necessary for employment.

The Skills Centers School System enrolled 1,045 adult and juvenile offenders in FY 2022, and more than 95% of those who completed training found jobs with an average hourly wage of $14.64.

In addition to teaching individuals through technology centers, skills centers, PK-12 schools and adult education and family literacy programs, Oklahoma CareerTech also provides customized training and other services to companies in the state to help them increase profitability.

In FY 2022, CareerTech served 6,671 companies through entrepreneurial development, firefighter training, customized industry, safety training, adult and career development, training for industry and OkAPEX Accelerators. The TIP program helped companies locate in Oklahoma and provided training for 2,941 new jobs, and OkAPEX helped state companies secure 1,775 federal, state, local and tribal government contracts valued at $392,442,455.