Category Archives: Technology Centers

Welcome to CareerTech

For more than 100 years, Oklahoma CareerTech has been connecting students and businesses with training opportunities that help Oklahomans find rewarding careers and support Oklahoma industries. Our goal is to develop a world-class workforce for Oklahoma employers and prepare Oklahomans to succeed in the workplace, in education and in life.

  • 29 tech centers operating on 59 campuses 
  • 394 PK-12 school districts 
  • 13 Skills Centers campuses 
  • 31 Adult Basic Education providers at 116 sites
  • 426,00 total CareerTech enrollments in FY21
  • 5,670 companies served by CareerTech in FY21

CareerTech Champions

Dr. Joana Pantoja – Metro Technology Centers and HOSA

First-generation American adds “Doctor” to her name.

Then: A soft-spoken, first-generation American whose parents didn’t speak English. Joana Pantoja’s father was a roofer, her mother was a housekeeper, and they both worked hard to try to save enough money to send their children to college.

In middle school she wanted to be a lawyer, but by high school, Pantoja realized she preferred science over social studies. When a Metro Technology Centers recruiter visited ASTEC Charter High School, Pantoja decided to enroll in Metro Tech’s Biomedical Sciences Academy, a three-year Project Lead the Way program. After attending a classroom lecture about the eye, including a dissection, she discovered a passion for vision sciences. She also joined HOSA, the CareerTech organization for students pursuing health careers, and excelled at state and national contests three years in a row.

After high school, she graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in biology and biomedical sciences. 

Pantoja credits Metro Tech and HOSA for:

  • Teaching her how to use lab equipment she would need to use in college.
  • Helping her improve her networking and communication skills, including how to write research manuscripts and lab reports.
  • Introducing her to notetaking and study methods that aligned with her learning style.
  • Writing letters of recommendation and offering resume guidance that led to several scholarships, including the first ever James D. Branscum Scholarship.

“I felt connected to my teachers at Metro Tech,” she said. “I felt like I could talk to them, ask them anything, and they were there to give me advice and support me in anything I wanted to do.”

Traveling to the national HOSA conference was her first airplane trip. Through HOSA activities she traveled to Disneyland, Disney World and Nashville, Tennessee. There were even more travel opportunities as an undergrad at UCO, where she presented her research at national conferences.

Now: This spring, a confident, well-spoken first-generation college graduate graduated from optometry school at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah. Dr. Pantoja joined the eyecare team at Advanced Family Eyecare Vision Source in Oklahoma City. She specializes in dry eye management, myopia control and vision therapy.

“I never liked blood, growing up, and I had the false view that anything related to healthcare would not be a good choice.”

Joana Pantoja

Aerospace Manufacturing Business Credits OkPTAC

Tim Frisby and Brandon Garcia talk in a video on Oklahoma CareerTech’s YouTube channel about how OkPTAC helped their aerospace manufacturing business to the skies with more opportunities in federal contracting.

OkPTAC is a procurement technical assistance center that helps Oklahoma businesses interested in selling products and services to federal, state, local and tribal governments. Oklahoma CareerTech administers the program, which assists clients through participating technology centers.

CareerTech Champions

Riley Sutton – Meridian Technology Center

Pre-engineering grad’s career is on fire!

THEN: As early as high school, he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and become an engineer. Riley Sutton enrolled in Meridian Technology Center’s pre-engineering program and built his first robot when he was a high school junior. He said pre-engineering and the FIRST Robotics competition taught him how to work as part of an engineering team.

“Everyone had an opportunity to provide input on the design,” Sutton said. “And we worked together to finalize the design and then assemble the robot.”

Sutton said the program offered more in-depth, hands-on engineering instruction than he would have received in a traditional high school setting. He said the program provided him

  • The ability to take difficult classes, such as chemistry, physics and calculus, that prepared him for his college engineering courses.
  • A chance to learn about the many career paths in engineering.
  • An understanding of the importance of obtaining professional certifications.

“Since graduating college, I have received the certified fire protection specialist certification from the National Fire Protection Association and have been designated as a professional member of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers,” he said. “I am also working on achieving the certified safety professional and on becoming a licensed professional engineer.”

Sutton said Meridian Tech’s pre-engineering program has made him a better engineer and a better professional, which has led to job opportunities and advancements.

NOW: A fire protection engineer and deputy fire marshal at a decommissioned nuclear production complex operated by the U.S. government. Sutton maintains the infrastructure for the site and is responsible for ensuring compliance with fire protection program requirements and minimizing the risk of fire.

“I review lots of engineering designs as part of a larger design team that must work together effectively in order to achieve the desired result,” Sutton said. “The pre-engineering program is the foundation upon which my engineering career was built.”

Without the pre-engineering program, I would not have been nearly as prepared for my engineering degree program at Oklahoma State University.”

Riley Sutton, fire protection engineer and deputy fire marshal

CLEET Honors CareerTech Employee

The Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training recognized Oklahoma CareerTech employee Craig Maile this week for his service on the curriculum review board. 

Maile represented the Oklahoma CareerTech System on the board since 2007. The board made a presentation to him at its meeting Tuesday. 

Craig Maile, manager of Oklahoma CareerTech’s Resource Center for CareerTech Advancement, received recognition Tuesday from the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training for his service on CLEET’s curriculum review board.

“Serving on the curriculum review board has been an honor for me. Several family members have served in law enforcement, including a sister who is a CLEET academy graduate,” said Maile, manager of Oklahoma CareerTech’s Resource Center for CareerTech Advancement. “Offering advice to CLEET on their curriculum made me feel that I was contributing to the larger mission of the law enforcement community.” 

CLEET’s curriculum review board establishes curriculum for all CLEET academies and training courses. Members of the board come from law enforcement, higher education and Oklahoma CareerTech. 

Oklahoma CareerTech and CLEET began their partnership in 1987 when the Oklahoma State Department of Vocational and Technical Education (now Oklahoma CareerTech) developed curriculum to train security guards and private investigators. 

That was also when Maile began his work with CLEET. 

“I was a new technical writer at the state agency in Stillwater at that time and was assigned the task of writing the first editions of the curriculum with CLEET,” he said. 

As a state authority on law enforcement training, CLEET set the direction for the curriculum with input from industry advisory committees, Maile said. Oklahoma CareerTech handled the writing, editing and printing. The draft curriculum was field-tested in CareerTech classes, and teachers from around the state attended workshops to learn how to deliver it. A free online train-the-trainer course eventually took the place of in-person workshops. 

The CareerTech Testing Center also offers CLEET certification testing for private security and bail enforcement and processes the results and administers the Oklahoma Peace Officer Screening and Selection Exam, which individuals take before entering basic law enforcement and reserve basic law enforcement academies. 

Oklahoma CareerTech’s partnership with CLEET offers opportunities to increase Oklahoma’s workforce in law enforcement, criminal justice and security careers, said Marcie Mack, CareerTech state director. 

“Technology centers statewide have experienced significant demand for programs in these pathways in recent years,” she said. “Basic peace officer certification is available at four technology centers, and there are 19 criminal justice programs across the state. CLEET and CareerTech are working together to offer additional training throughout the 29 technology center districts. This includes training for dispatch, jailer and other career pathways.” 

Mack nominated Marshall McDonald of Central Technology Center in Drumright to take Maile’s spot on the curriculum review board.

CareerTech Champions

Branson Brewer — High Plains Technology Center and DECA

THEN: A marketing class offered through his high school was all it took to send Branson Brewer down his career path. Brewer enrolled in the marketing program at High Plains Technology Center, and that’s where he discovered his passion.

At High Plains, Brewer gained a number of skills he uses in his career, including

  • Public speaking.
  • Marketing.
  • Investing.
  • Filming and video editing.

He was president of his school’s DECA chapter (the CareerTech leadership organization for students in marketing, finance, hospitality and management) and received his marketing assistant certification from High Plains.

“These skills have helped me be a better communicator, be more social and have better working relationships,” he said.

Brewer said networking was the best part of his CareerTech experience, meeting great friends and mentors who made a positive, lifelong impact.

His marketing education didn’t end with his high school diploma from Woodward High. He is working toward his bachelor’s degree in business administration with a minor in marketing at Northwest Oklahoma State University.

NOW: Brewer uses the skills he gained in marketing and DECA every day, both as a hobby and in his career. The on-air radio personality and account executive at Classic Communications Inc. discusses advertising plans with prospective clients and uses his skills to market and promote local businesses. He also creates videos for the radio station’s online live sports stream.

Away from work, Brewer applies his love of photography and videography to making vacation videos that allow him to capture lasting memories of his leisure time.

“CareerTech is an affordable way to learn real life skills that will help you for years to come,” he said.

Virtual OEIP Event Focuses on Automotive Careers

Through their October OEIP Virtual Event, CareerTech is partnering with automotive industry experts so attendees can learn more about careers in the automotive industry.

When:  October 27, 2021

Time:  10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Where:  Virtual

Registration Link

CareerTech Champions

Emily Trail – Meridian Technology Center

CareerTech grad takes her new career path to heart.

Then: A disappointed applicant who had been denied acceptance into a college nursing program. Emily Trail was determined to become a nurse, however, and the Texas native said she’d heard great things about Meridian Technology Center. Trail enrolled in Meridian Tech’s licensed practical nurse program and immediately discovered her passion. In the LPN program, she

  • Learned critical thinking skills for nursing and critical thinking skills for her daily life.
  • Learned basic nursing techniques such as how to insert an IV, draw blood and properly remove staples and sutures.
  • Learned study habits and time management skills that helped her pass her Health Education Systems Inc. entrance exam for the registered nurse program.
  • Gained social skills that help her respond to patient concerns.
  • Received her phlebotomist certification and LPN license.

“Before I enrolled in the LPN program, I was a procrastinator – not only on my schoolwork, but also in my everyday tasks,” she said. “The LPN program forced me to get things done early, which has significantly lowered my stress level.”

Trail said she uses the skills she learned at Meridian Tech every day in her job.

She also said the program provided her with a network of good friends.

“My favorite experiences from Meridian were the memories I made with my friends,” she said. “No matter what time of day it was, I could always count on them to help me if I needed them. We were attached at the hip during this program and literally did everything together, including daily study sessions.”

Now: A nursing student at Northern Oklahoma College and a nurse in the cardiology clinic at Stillwater Medical Center.

“I think CareerTech education is a great thing, especially for high school students who want to get a head start on their future careers,” she said.

“CareerTech prepares students not only for the field they are studying for, but it also prepares them for future educational options by teaching good study habits and critical thinking abilities for life and in the workplace.”

Emily Trail – Cardiology Nurse

Oklahoma Celebrates Careers in Energy Week with Virtual Career Fair

Governor Stitt declares Oct. 18 – 22 Oklahoma Careers in Energy Week

Governor Kevin Stitt issued a proclamation recognizing October 18-22, 2021 as the second annual Oklahoma Careers in Energy Week. Oklahoma Energy Workforce Consortium is celebrating the week by promoting the benefits of pursuing careers in the industry. Energy is the highest-paying industry in the state, with an average salary of more than $109,000 annually, and employed more than 84,000 Oklahomans in 2021, according to the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development. Leading the industry, Oklahoma ranks fourth in the U.S. for wind energy employment, third for installed wind capacity, sixth for solar potential, is the third largest producer of natural gas, and is home to the world’s largest oil storage facility.

“Oklahoma’s all-of-the-above energy strategy makes us a national leader in oil, natural gas and wind production, which leads to a wide range of career opportunities for Oklahomans who are preparing to enter the job market,” Stitt said. “During Careers in Energy Week we celebrate those who work behind the scenes in Oklahoma’s energy industry and recognize all they do to keep our lights on, our homes comfortable, our cars running and our economy growing. I know our energy sector workers will continue to help this industry grow, innovate and provide needed services and products for our state and the world.”

OEWC first united in 2019 to help address upcoming nationwide shortages predicted for the energy industry by 2025. As part of this year’s celebration, the consortium is promoting the EnergyCareers 2021 Virtual Career Event being held October 20. The online-only event is hosted by the Center for Energy Workforce Development and aims to bring awareness to the diverse job opportunities in the energy sector as well as highlight and fill open positions in the industry.

“There are so many opportunities to work and serve our state through different energy services including utilities, renewable energy, oil and gas and more. We want to always be able to introduce our students to these opportunities in our community, and this collaboration is a great way to spur these conversations,” said Marcie Mack, state director of CareerTech. “The partnership between the energy industry and CareerTech helps us provide meaningful and tailored energy education programs to more Oklahomans, increasing their chances of entering a career in energy and boosting their earning potential.”

In addition to industry leaders, the consortium includes leaders from Oklahoma CareerTech, K-12 education, higher education and government and is focused on creating a pipeline of talented, diverse individuals to meet future needs within the state’s energy sector.

“Our public colleges and universities offer numerous degree paths to prepare graduates for employment in the energy sector,” said higher education Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “Increasing the number of degree-holders in STEM fields strengthens Oklahoma’s economy, and heightening awareness of those degree pathways is key to advancing educational attainment in our state’s critical occupations.”

Getting young Oklahomans excited about careers in energy is a top priority of the consortium, as developing future engineers, technicians, chemists, construction managers and many other important positions are key to sustaining the industry’s momentum.

“In Oklahoma, the energy industry plays a critical role in everyday life and we want all Oklahomans, particularly young people, to understand the incredible career opportunities in the industry,” said Sean Trauschke, chairman, president and CEO of OGE Energy Corp. “The partnership between the industry, educators and government is vital to inspiring our future workforce to power the state through a wide variety of energy-related occupations.”

“The energy sector is always changing, and there’s a continual need for new skill sets, which is what makes our partnership with education and the State so important,” said PSO President and Chief Operating Officer Peggy Simmons. “We are always looking for bright minds ready to learn and provide life-changing services to those around them. We hire qualified workers for jobs from engineers to power line technicians, from construction managers to chemists. Each one of them has the power to make a difference in their community.”   

The OEWC cites the impending workforce shortage as a major driver for its formation. STEM curriculum plays a pivotal role in energy occupations, and many schools are implementing more programs as a pipeline for similar jobs. STEM education opens doors to many different industries and provides tools and skills for future generations to apply to occupations like energy. 

“At the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development, we strive to connect industry and education across the state to secure and embrace the skill needs of our future workforce,” said Don Morris, executive director of the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development. “Fostering these collaborations across industries provides more opportunities for meaningful occupations for more Oklahomans. This also helps Oklahoma retain talent and passion to drive success today and tomorrow in the energy sector.” 

To register for the EnergyCareers 2021 Virtual Career Event visit getintoenergy.com and click EnergyCareers 2021 at the top of the page.

For more information about the Energy Career Cluster, Careers in Energy Week, and the Oklahoma Energy Workforce Consortium, visit oklahoma.getintoenergy.com.

About Oklahoma Energy Workforce Consortium

Oklahoma Energy Workforce Consortium is a partnership among Oklahoma energy companies and organizations with a mission to raise awareness about the energy industry and career pathways available to Oklahoma students. The consortium represents the energy industry, education, government and community leaders united to build a talent pipeline for Oklahoma’s energy sector. The full list of consortium members can be viewed at oklahoma.getintoenergy.com.

CareerTech Champions

Mason Hardy – Canadian Valley Technology Center

CareerTech grad drones on and on about his new career.

THEN: In his own words, college after high school “didn’t go well.” Mason Hardy needed to learn a trade and find a stable job, so when Canadian Valley Technology Center offered him a Next Step Scholarship waiving his tuition, he enrolled in its automotive collision technology program.

He learned how to paint cars damaged in collisions, but he also

  • Had an opportunity to hear from potential hiring managers.
  • Got leads on numerous job openings.
  • Received career advice that helped him land a job.

This spring, Hardy was named one of the CV Tech Foundation’s Outstanding Scholars, but the career path he took after graduation was somewhat unconventional.

It was a guest speaker who sent Hardy down a career path he didn’t even know existed. Instructor David Venard invited a senior manager from Kratos, a drone-manufacturing company, to speak to the class about career opportunities. Soon, Hardy found himself on a phone interview with the company. After another interview in person, he was offered a job. Even after he accepted, he said, he wasn’t sure what kind of drones he’d be painting. He just knew he had the skills they were looking for.

“Everything we paint is made of carbon fiber deposits,” Hardy said. “Just like with cars, I do prep work and body work to fill in imperfections in the aircraft. Then I primer and paint.”

Hardy paints high performance unmanned aerial tactical and target drone systems for the military, including the newly organized U.S. Space Force. The smallest drone produced at the facility is 7 feet long, but Hardy also paints combat drones, used in air-to-air or air-to-ground scenarios. These aircraft are 36 feet long and have wings that measure 15 feet.

NOW: Proud of the work he does and making good, steady money. Hardy calls it “a blessed opportunity,” saying he likes knowing he is helping protect the lives of service members and American interests around the world.

“I give much of the credit to my instructor and counselors.”

Mason Hardy, painter for Kratos drone manufacturer
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