Category Archives: STEM

Purple Ducks place second in national space challenge

CareerTech represented TWICE in StellarXplorers VII top 10.

Francis Tuttle Technology Center’s Purple Ducks beat out 209 teams from across the country at the national StellarXplorers VII High School Space Challenge.

(L-R): Bryan Kitzrow, Sean Rice, Renardus Herholdt, Samual Doerflinger (Team Captain), Clark Howard & Charles Koutahi

StellarXplorers is an Air Force Association program designed to inspire students to pursue education and careers in STEM fields that use space system engineering.

During the competition, teams defined orbits and spacecraft components and launched vehicles to meet a set of mission requirements. The students had to choose where to launch from, what equipment/sensors to choose for the payload while staying within the weight and cost constraints, and what orbit to select for the satellite to optimize its objective. The scenario used actual “real-life” situations, numbers, and constraints. Teams also gave a presentation to a panel of experts.

While preparing for and participating in the challenge, students develop skills such as teamwork, time management, communication, conflict resolution, leadership, risk assessment, critical thinking and relevance. They use problem solving-methods with complex open-ended situations.

The Purple Ducks team members were Sean Rice, Renardus Herholdt, Sam Doerflinger, Clark Howard and instructors Bryan Kitzrow and Charles Khoutai. The Oklahoma City students finished just a few points behind the Africanized Killer Bees, which represented Aurora Composite Squadron, Civil Air Patrol, from Portland, Oregon.

Charles Khoutai said teams get to work with STK, a software platform that allows students to analyze the complex missions and operations in space.

“We never know what skills will open doors to for our students,” Khoutai said. “But with the establishment of the newest branch of military, “Space Force,” the relevance of space missions becomes real. 

CareerTech offers a state-approved course that aligns with the competition and includes earning an STK certification in level one and two.

Along with bragging rights, each of Francis Tuttle’s second-place team members received a $2,000 scholarship from the Department of the Air Force STEM program.

“The AFA is very proud of all the students who competed in the StellarXplorers National Finals,” said retired Lt. Gen. Bruce “Orville” Wright. “Not only were they among the top teams this season, but they competed in the midst of a pandemic.”

Stephen K. Gourley, StellarXplorers program director, said, “These very talented competitors represent the next generation of the technical workforce the nation needs. With the graying and passing of the Apollo-era cadre, the U.S. needs to find and challenge talented students, whoever and wherever they are. We are quite proud of the participants’ demographics, all backgrounds, races and genders drawn from urban, suburban and rural populations.”

Edmond North’s Alex Loney, national TSA vice president

According to the AFA, nearly half of the StellarXplorers are underrepresented minorities and over a third are female. Sponsors of the program include Lockheed Martin, the U.S. Air Force STEM Program and L3Harris, with additional support from the Educational Alliance of Analytical Graphics Inc., Space Center Houston and Coyote Enterprises. 

The Stars AFJROTC team from Edmond North High School also competed in the finals and placed in the top 10. One of the members of that team was Alex Loney, national Technology Student Association vice president: https://tsaweb.org/about/people/national-tsa-officers.  

The CareerTech STEM division partners with the local Gerrity AFA Chapter to support StellarXplorers teams in Oklahoma. The two partners will join forces with the FAA to provide training June 9-10 for teachers interested in competing and/or adopting the course next year. For additional information, visit the Oklahoma CareerTech website at www.okcareertech.org/educators/STEM and select Professional Development.

Related content: Oklahoma News Report story on StellarXplorers

Oklahoma CareerTech students chosen for U.S. Senate Youth Program

Two CareerTech students will represent Oklahoma during the 59th annual United States Senate Youth Program Washington Week.

Sean Kuehn

Sean Kuehn of Sand Springs and Julian Ober of Tulsa will join 102 other national student delegates during the first-ever fully virtual Washington Week, which will be an interactive education and leadership forum.

“We are proud to have Sean and Julian representing Oklahoma at a national level,” said Oklahoma CareerTech State Director Marcie Mack. “Their academic accomplishments and leadership exemplify student excellence and CareerTech’s mission to promote career awareness.”

Kuehn, a senior at Charles Page High School, is the national president of Technology Student Association, a former state president of the Oklahoma Technology Student Association and a national champion in Prepared Speech. TSA is a CareerTech student organization affiliated with science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.

Kuehn serves on Mack’s Student Advisory Committee and Oklahoma State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister’s Student Advisory Council. He has been a member of the Gold Pride Marching Band and National Honor Society and has been captain of the academic team. After graduation, he plans to study political science at Columbia University.

Julian Ober

“OKTSA is proud of Sean and his accomplishments both at the state and national level,” said Tami Redus, Oklahoma TSA state adviser. “He has been a dedicated member since middle school and continues to make the organization proud.”

Ober, a senior at Union High School, is a member of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, the CTSO affiliated with family and consumer sciences education. She has served as a district president in the northeast region of Oklahoma FCCLA.

She is also a member of the Superintendent Student Council Advisory Board and the Student Athlete Advisory Council, is captain of the tennis team and has served as the co-facilitator of the Youth Philanthropy Initiative. She plans to study international affairs and women’s gender and sexuality studies in college.

“Oklahoma FCCLA is incredibly proud of Julian and the leadership she brings not only to her school but also to her community and state,” said Brittani Phillips, Oklahoma FCCLA state adviser. “FCCLA empowers students to sharpen their leadership skills, and she is a fantastic representation of FCCLA. She has embraced our tagline and is showing everyone that FCCLA is the Ultimate Leadership Experience.”

During the program week, Kuehn and Ober will attend online meetings and briefings with senators, the president, a Supreme Court justice, Cabinet agency leaders and members of national media outlets.

Kuehn and Ober will each receive a $10,000 scholarship for undergraduate study for participating in the program. They were selected by Hofmeister after a rigorous application process.

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 58 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.

About the United States Senate Youth Program

The U.S. Senate created the USSYP in 1962. It has been sponsored by the Senate and funded by The Hearst Foundations since its creation. Its mission, according to its website, “is to provide a yearly opportunity for selected students to gain an in-depth view of the Senate and the federal government overall as well as a deeper understanding of the interrelationship of the legislative, judicial and executive branches.

Oklahoma CareerTech Students, Instructor Win NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing

Nine Oklahoma CareerTech students and one instructor have received the National Center for Women & Information Technology Award for Aspirations in Computing.

Olga Caulfield, pre-engineering instructor at Moore Norman Technology Center received the Educator Award.

High School Award winners were Emily Dangott, Central Technology Center, Kiefer; Camryn Grabeal, Caddo Kiowa Technology Center, Apache; Madelyn McDonald and Lauren Smith, both Moore Norman Technology Center and both of Moore; Sage Abbot, Moore Norman Technology Center; and Skyler Wright, Southern Technology Center, Ardmore.

Kaylin Charlton, Moore Norman Technology Center, Moore, was an honorable mention recipient for the High School Award.

High School Awards rising stars were Moore Norman Technology Center students Olivia Braley, Norman, and Hannah Sanders and Hana Tafolla, both of Moore.

Award recipients were selected from more than 4,200 applicants from all 50 U.S. states; Washington, D.C.; Guam; Puerto Rico; the U.S. Virgin Islands; U.S. overseas military bases; and Canada. Selections were based on outstanding aptitude and aspirations in technology and computing as demonstrated by computing experience, computing-related activities, leadership experience, tenacity in the face of barriers to access and plans for post-secondary education.

“Encouraging young women’s interest in technology careers is critical: Our workforce needs their creativity and unique perspectives to produce technology that is as broad and innovative as the population it serves,” said NCWIT CEO and co-founder Lucy Sanders.

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 58 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.

About NCWIT

NCWIT is a nonprofit community that convenes, equips and unites change leader organizations to increase the influential and meaningful participation of girls and women — at the intersections of race/ethnicity, class, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability status and other historically marginalized identities — in the field of computing, particularly in terms of innovation and development. Find out more at www.ncwit.org.

CareerTech Champions

Jackson Cejda – Moore Norman Technology Center

From undecided to up-and-coming, this software engineer signs on with Tesla.

Then: An upperclassman at Moore High School suggested his freshman friend try the pre-engineering program at Moore Norman Technology Center. Jackson Cejda said at that time he had no idea what he wanted to do after high school, but he’d heard good things about the program, so he took his friend’s advice and signed up.

Now that he has completed the program, Cejda said he uses the skills he gained to guide his professional development. In pre-engineering, he developed

  • Project-based thinking abilities. Cejda said for the first time, he was able to look at problems from end to end.
  • Critical problem-solving skills.
  • Interpersonal professional skills.

“The skills I learned in pre-engineering are applicable every day of my life,” he said. “In my schoolwork, projects and recently in the hiring process for a full-time job.

Cejda said at Moore Norman he learned various professional skills, including how to work on projects as a team, and how to prepare project reports.

“I had fantastic mentors that spanned over four years,” he said. “I was challenged by the projects, and I came out with real actionable skills I could apply to my personal and professional life.”

Now: Cejda attends the University of Oklahoma and plans to graduate in 2021. He works in OU’s Tom Love Innovation Hub, a digital fabrication lab, where he assists in prototyping for university research projects. He has accepted a job as a software engineer for Tesla in Austin, Texas, after graduation. In his new job, Cejda will help build and test Tesla’s new generation of vehicles.

“The pre-engineering program helped me figure out what I truly wanted to do with my career and empowered me with the ability to actually get it done.”

Jackson Cejda, future software engineer at Tesla

February is Career and Technical Education Appreciation Month

During a year of pandemic changes, the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education kept its focus on helping Oklahomans succeed while adding new programs in response to new needs.

The Oklahoma 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.

“Oklahoma CareerTech continues to deliver high quality education despite the pandemic. We remain laser-focused on the multiple career paths for students and meeting the workforce needs of businesses and industries in the state,” said ODCTE State Director Marcie Mack. “The work of Oklahoma CareerTech across the state provides meaningful results for Oklahoma’s economy.”

Oklahoma CareerTech expanded its programs in response to the pandemic as it continued its focus on filling skills gaps for both employees and employers in the state.

ODCTE worked with partners to launch several new educational initiatives in 2020, including a new energy career cluster to promote the benefits of pursuing careers in energy; online meat processing courses to fill a workforce shortage in the meat processing industry; and a mobile meat processing laboratory.

ODCTE worked with the University of Oklahoma College of Nursing to revamp a nurse refresher course to get nurses back in the field faster. In addition, technology center nursing students across the state assisted with COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinics.

The CareerTech Testing Center worked with the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association to offer certification exams for veterinary assistants and with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol to use the Oklahoma Peace Officer Screening and Selection Exam developed by CTTC for OHP Academy applicants.

Oklahoma CareerTech also launched VirtualJobShadow.com to introduce more state students — more than 16,000 in 20 PK-12 and technology center districts — to nontraditional careers. The platform is ideal for schools and students doing virtual and distance learning because it is video-based.

When Oklahoma’s schools pivoted to distance learning in the spring of 2020, instructors in the 29 technology center districts and the 399 PK-12 school districts with CareerTech courses developed ways to help their students continue learning to finish the year. ODCTE offered additional instructional resources and guidance to tech centers and schools to help them with distance learning.

CareerTech students and teachers across the state also donated medical supplies, masks and more to help frontline pandemic workers.

Employees in CareerTech’s 13 skills centers, which operate in Oklahoma’s correctional and juvenile detention facilities, developed new processes that will better serve graduates; reduce barriers to reintegration; and improve communication, teamwork and probability of graduate success.

During a year of pivots caused by the pandemic, Oklahoma CareerTech was able to stay true to its mission of preparing Oklahomans to succeed in the workplace, in education and in life and expand its offerings to meet new needs in new ways.

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 58 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 by the Numbers in Fiscal Year 2020

  • 399 PK-12 school districts with 1,399 teachers and 132,532 enrollments
  • 29 technology center districts with 58 campuses, 1,306 teachers and 310,285 enrollments
  • 37 percent of sixth through 12th grade and almost half of ninth through 12th grade students enrolled in CareerTech courses: agricultural education; business and information technology education; family and consumer sciences education; health careers education; marketing education; science, technology, engineering and mathematics; and trade and industrial education.
  • More than 86,000 students in co-curricular CareerTech student organizations: FFA; Family, Careers and Community Leaders of America; SkillsUSA; Technology Student Association; Business Professionals of America; HOSA; and DECA
  • 18,685 industry-endorsed certificates earned
  • 13 skills centers with 35 teachers and 1,541 enrollments
  • 32 adult basic education providers at 111 sites serving 10,768 students
  • 297 students earning high school diplomas in dropout recovery program
  • 7,295 industries served by business and industry training
  • 1,767 new jobs with training from ODCTE Business and Industry Services Division
  • $390 million secured by state companies in government contracts with help from Oklahoma Procurement Technical Assistance Center

Oklahoma CareerTech Foundation, tech centers secure aviation education grants

The Oklahoma CareerTech Foundation and two technology centers were among 38 organizations that received Aerospace and Aviation Education Program grants or contracts totaling over $330,000 from the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission.

The record amount of funding will be used to encourage more of Oklahoma’s students to enter STEM careers, particularly those in aerospace and aviation.

The CareerTech Foundation’s Oklahoma Education and Industry Partnership program received an education grant, along with Mid-Del Technology Center and Metro Technology Centers.

OEIP is a professional development program for teachers designed by the Oklahoma Career Tech Foundation to connect educators to industry to create a better-educated, trained workforce. At each of four OEIP sites located in technology centers across the state, teachers will have the opportunity to take industry tours and learn from business and industry leaders. Approximately 300 teachers are expected to participate in the program. OEIP was approved for a $10,000 grant.

Mid-Del Tech was approved for a $4,000 grant for its aircraft structures and heavy maintenance course, which is designed to teach students the skills needed for the aerospace workforce. The program will provide students with the resources needed to acquire work-ready skills in electricity, sheet metal and composites. Thirty students are expected to participate.

Metro Tech received grants for two programs: a mobile STEM lab and the ACE Camp program it operates with FAA Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center.

The mobile STEM lab was approved for a $10,000 grant. It will provide students in the Oklahoma City metro area the opportunity to participate in hands-on activities that will introduce them to flight, space and 3D engineering. Approximately 1,000 students are expected to participate.

ACE Camp, a week-long summer camp, will expose students to STEM curriculum and will allow them to participate in hands-on activities that will introduce the history of aviation, aviation safety and airport operations. Fifty students are expected to participate in the camp, which was approved for a $13,250 grant.

Grants are awarded for targeted learning programs that have a direct application to aerospace and aviation for primary through post-secondary education. The grant funds are part of the agency’s initiative to give more Oklahoma young people access to STEM careers in the aerospace and aviation industry.

The aerospace and aviation grant program has been awarding aviation education grants for more than 30 years. Charged with the mission by state statute, the commission fosters and encourages students to consider aerospace or aviation as a career. The commission’s grant program has years of positive results. The initiative supports the Oklahoma Works project that aims to address the skills gap and to connect students to programs that will help build the workforce of Oklahoma’s second largest industry.

Director of Aeronautics Victor Bird said aerospace supports 240,000 jobs with an average salary of $73,300 annually.

“After a two-year study concluded in 2017, we learned that the aviation and aerospace sector in Oklahoma supports $43.7 billion in annual statewide economic activity. A competent workforce, which includes the critical need for aerospace engineers, will be needed to sustain this industry,” Bird said.

The nationally recognized program enjoys a positive reputation as one of the most robust aviation education programs among state aviation agencies. Since FY2001, it has awarded more than $2.8 million in aerospace and aviation education grants.

The 53rd Annual Oklahoma Summit

Oklahoma Summit - 53rd Logo

  • Registration is open.
  • Summit dates are Aug. 4-5.

The 53rd Annual Oklahoma Summit will be held virtually this year.

Online Registration

All participants are strongly advised to register in advance to provide a quicker, more efficient log-in experience. Beginning July 8, online registration requires you to fill out your personal information for the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education to enter into its new data storage system. After you complete your information for ODCTE, you will continue on to the OkACTE website to verify your personal information with OkACTE. From there, you will proceed with registration and membership options. The online registration/membership is located on a secured site. When registering, please be sure to print your paid receipt. This will help facilitate your log-in process.

Register Here for Oklahoma Summit 2020

For any questions or assistance with online Summit registration, please contact the OkACTE office at 405-525-8906 or

CareerTech Champions

Skyler Riggle – Gordon Cooper Technology Center

RiggleSmall town graduate has big plans for his future.

THEN: He came from a long line of veterans and dreamed of attending the U.S. Naval Academy. Asher High School sophomore Skyler Riggle enrolled in Gordon Cooper Technology Center’s pre-engineering academy, where he had the opportunity to explore and investigate engineering careers. As well as tackling hands-on college prep activities in mathematics and science, Skyler also

  • Competed with the school’s robotics team.
  • Was chosen as one of only 300 students in the country to receive the prestigious Gates Scholarship.
  • Received a conditional offer to the U.S. Naval Academy Preparatory School.
  • Received the valedictorian scholarship from the University of Oklahoma.

NOW: Once he’s been officially accepted to the USNA, Skyler will have to choose between OU and USNA Preparatory School, where he would complete a 10-month course to prepare for the Naval Academy.

Skyler’s principal and counselor Shawna Magby said Skyler was not your typical high school student.

“He’s very diligent, responsible and self-motivated,” she said.

Oklahoma CareerTech: Developing a World-Class Workforce

Oklahoma’s Career and Technology Education System is focused on developing a world-class workforce. This comprehensive system delivers educational experiences through 394 PK-12 school districts, 29 technology center districts, 16 Skills Centers sites and 32 adult basic education providers and to more than 6,900 businesses.

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Francis Tuttle Students Receive Lemelson-MIT Program InvenTeam Grant

FrancisTuttleSanders

Francis Tuttle instructor Brad Sanders.

A team of Francis Tuttle Technology Center engineering, biosciences and medicine students is one of 14 InvenTeams nationwide to receive grants up to $10,000 from the Lemelson-MIT Program. The grants fund original inventions addressing local and worldwide problems.

Francis Tuttle’s InvenTeam of nine high school students led by instructors Brad Sanders and Jared Keester was awarded the $10,000 grant to fund its proposed invention that would disinfect airport bins of harmful bacteria and viruses.

“Our students applied incredible creativity and ingenuity throughout the application process,” said Sanders. “They identified a global threat to public health and proposed a clear and achievable way to solve it. We are honored to have been selected and are excited to get to work.”

Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams are teams of high school students, educators and mentors that receive grants of up to $10,000 each to invent technological solutions to real-world problems. The Lemelson-MIT Program celebrates outstanding inventors and inspires young people to pursue creative lives and careers through invention. The national InvenTeam initiative aims to inspire a new generation of inventors and encourage an inventive culture in schools and communities.

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