Category Archives: Trade and Industrial Education

Meridian Tech Students Renovate Train

Students in Meridian Technology Center’s metal fabrication, welding, automotive technology and collision repair technology programs recently completed renovation of a train for the Hydro Free Fair.

The students began the project in 2018, working with the Hydro Fair Association to bring the Century Flyer miniature train back to its original glory. See before and after photos of the train on Meridian’s Facebook page.

The project was also feature on KFOR’s “Is This a Great State or What?” segment.

CareerTech Essential to Meet Workforce Needs

A qualified workforce is critical to the state’s economic well-being and will be vital to its recovery following the pandemic. Oklahoma CareerTech, which has long been a major component of Oklahoma’s economic engine, will play a starring role in this recovery.

Through a network of 399 PK-12 school districts, 29 technology center districts, 13 skills center sites and 32 adult basic education providers, the strengths of Oklahoma’s CareerTech System include accessibility and flexibility.

Through partnerships with business and industry, Oklahoma CareerTech has responded quickly to the state’s immediate workforce needs by providing customized career training in a wide range of industries, including health care, agriculture, aerospace and energy.

Read more in CareerTech State Director Marcie Mack’s guest column in The Journal Record.

CareerTech Champions

Jesse Moore – Tulsa Technology Center

CareerTech grad got his career off the ground F.A.S.T.

THEN: He had aviation in his blood. Jesse Moore’s grandfather worked in aviation before Jesse was born. That family history may have been in the back of his mind when a group of students from Tulsa Technology Center’s aviation program gave a presentation at Owasso High School. Still two years away from graduation, Moore didn’t have much of a career plan, and the tech center presentation piqued his interest.

He enrolled in Tulsa Tech’s aviation generals, airframe and powerplant program at about the same time Sheryl Oxley started teaching. Moore said many of his classmates signed up for the program to get away from their high school for half a day, but he quickly realized there was more to the class than a change of scenery.

“Sheryl Oxley got me hooked,” he said. “She was even instrumental in my decision to join the Air National Guard.”

In additional to stoking his love of airplanes, Moore said Oxley and the aviation program

  • Helped him learn time management skills.
  • Showed him the importance of attention to detail.
  • Taught him how to read and understand manuals.
  • Gave him a general mechanical understanding and overview of how things work.

“Tulsa Tech gave me everything I needed for a long lasting and successful aviation career,” he said.

Moore and a classmate were offered a free trip to the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Airventure, an annual air show and gathering of aviation enthusiasts in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Moore said it was one of the most memorable trips of his life. A decade later, he still volunteers at Airventure.

His first job out of school, Moore worked for Phoenix Rising Aviation, maintaining Falcon jets. He later joined a field and airborne support team with Gulfstream, a move he said catapulted his career forward. With F.A.S.T., he traveled all over, troubleshooting and solving complex mechanical issues.

NOW: After fixing a customer’s airplane one day, Moore was offered a job on the spot. He accepted the position he has today, corporate aircraft maintenance technician in Boston.

“A&P school teaches you how to learn and read manuals, do things correctly and understand why and how things work together. You can apply those skills to anything in life and become successful.

Jesse Moore, aircraft maintenance technician

CareerTech Champions

Justin Cockroft – SkillsUSA, Moore Norman Technology Center and Gordon Cooper Technology Center

His career took flight, after one love introduced him to another.

THEN: A high school graduate who thought he might want to own a home remodeling business. Justin Cockroft initially launched his CareerTech experience by enrolling in Moore Norman Technology Center’s carpentry program. There, he learned valuable carpentry skills from framing to roofing to trim carpentry. Although he didn’t start a business, Cockroft uses those skills for his own home remodeling projects.

His experience at Moore Norman sparked an interest in computer-aided drafting, which led to his second CareerTech experience. Cockroft enrolled in the CAD program at Gordon Cooper Technology Center in Shawnee.

It was at Gordon Cooper Tech that Cockroft discovered SkillsUSA, the CareerTech student organization for students preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations. He was active in SkillsUSA leadership activities and competitions, winning second place in the national SkillsUSA Chapter Display team event. Cockroft said

  • His CAD skills helped him land an entry-level position in an electrical engineering firm, where he later became senior electrical designer and firm manager, working with budgets in the tens of millions of dollars.
  • Those skills also helped him obtain a job at the Federal Aviation Administration, doing similar work.
  • He learned valuable project management and collaboration skills which he uses professionally today, both at the FAA and in the Air Force.

CareerTech provided a strong foundation for me,” he said. “I firmly believe that much of the success and opportunities I have experienced in my career can be directly attributed to the training and education I received from the CareerTech system.”

NOW: A management and program analyst at the FAA’s Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City. Cockroft administers a training program for more than a thousand federal employees and as many contractors, and facilitates the development of strategic messaging; planning; and science, technology, engineering and math initiatives.

He is a logistics readiness officer in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, ensuring his squadron’s fuels management flight delivers petroleum resources to the Air Force’s aerial weapons systems and vehicle management flight maintains vehicle fleet readiness.

“CareerTech provided me the opportunity to work with students, instructors and leadership, and I know I grew stronger and better because of these interactions.”

Justin Cockroft, FAA and MMAC

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

NOTE:

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.

CareerTech Champions

Jay Villemarette – Moore Norman Technology Center & SkillsUSA

CareerTech made such an impact he could feel it in his bones.

THEN: A self-conscious 17-year-old with an unusual hobby and no plans for his future. It was back in the ’80s when Jay Villemarette decided to enroll in Moore Norman Technology Center’s auto body course because he liked working with his hands. He didn’t know at the time that this decision would shape his future.

The auto body program taught the high school junior how to repair vehicles, but the personal and professional life lessons Villemarette learned from his MNTC instructor were even more valuable.

“Moore Norman is one of the first places I felt valued as a person,” he said. “And I owe much of my self-confidence to my instructor, Jim Opdyke. What he saw in me – at 17 – was something I didn’t see yet.”

One of the first lessons he learned was the importance of following through with the projects he started. Villemarette represented his class at the state SkillsUSA contest and placed third in the auto body competition. He went on to win fifth place at the national convention. Self-confidence was winning over self-consciousness.

It was the process of self-discovery that gave him the confidence to follow his true passion, which had absolutely nothing to do with cars. That passion started as a hobby when he was just a child.

How it all started

When Villemarette was 7 years old, he found a canine skull in the woods. He was fascinated by it, and with his father’s help he began collecting other skulls. By high school, he was selling them while he worked as an auto body technician.

Several decades later, what started as an unusual hobby is now a successful family business. Villemarette and his wife started Skulls Unlimited International, a mail-order company that services customers from around the world. Again, this is where his newfound self-confidence came into play.

“I created a market where a market hadn’t existed,” he said. “I brought skulls and skull collecting into the mainstream market and made skulls and skeletons available to the educational and science communities.”

Villemarette has supplied skeletons and skulls to many well-known museums, including the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.; the American Museum of Natural History in New York; and the Field Museum in Chicago. His company processes about 30,000 skulls or skeletons a year, making it the largest supplier of osteological specimens in the world. It was even featured on “Dirty Jobs” and “Modern Marvels”.

In 2010, Villemarette opened the Museum of Osteology in Oklahoma City. There, visitors can see a Komodo dragon skeleton that was a presidential gift to George H.W. Bush; a complete 40-foot humpback whale skeleton; and much more.

NOW: All three of his sons work for Skulls Unlimited with him and his wife, and two of the young men took courses at MNTC.

“These classes have done for my sons what it did for me,” Villemarette said. “I attribute much of my work ethic and self-confidence to my time at CareerTech.”

See: Skulls Unlimited featured on Dirty Jobs

See: Skulls Unlimited featured on Modern Marvels

Skulls Unlimited website

“CareerTech made an impact on my life that changed me forever.”  Jay Villemarette, Skulls Unlimited

Museum of Osteology
The history of Skulls Unlimited

CareerTech students produce work-based learning videos

Eleven groups of Oklahoma CareerTech students from three technology centers recently earned money for their programs by showing the benefits of work-based learning.

The students participated in a student work-based learning video contest sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education. Each group produced a video sharing the benefits they have received from participating in work-based learning.

“The Fall 2020 Student Work-Based Learning Video Contest was created to encourage students to share work-based learning experiences in their own words,” said H.L. Baird, Oklahoma CareerTech work-based learning liaison. “We know how powerful work-based learning can be for providing the critical relevance that supports the academic and technical skills students learn in their CareerTech programs. And we know how powerful the voice of students are to other students.”

Each entry earned either $250 or $500 for the students’ programs. Entries for the contest came from Mid-America Technology Center, Moore Norman Technology Center and Tulsa Technology Center:

  • MATC Health Careers Explorer Program, “Experiencing Healthcare First Hand.”
  • MATC Veterinary Assistant Program, “Making Connections Working With Wildlife.”
  • MATC Veterinary Assistant Program, “Haz Tu Futuro Hoy (Make Your Future Today.”
  • MATC Health Careers Explorer Program, “A Career In Caring.”
  • MNTC Web Design Program, “MNTC Web Design.”
  • MATC Horticulture Technician Program, “Petal Pushers.”
  • MATC Veterinary Assistant Program, “For Those With A Heart – Experiencing Work-Based Learning With The Wildcare Foundation.”
  • MATC Veterinary Assistant Program, “Every Animal Large Or Small You Can Health Them All.”
  • Tulsa Tech TV Production, “TV Production With CareerTech #1.”
  • Tulsa Tech TV Production, “Working Towards Success.”
  • Tulsa Tech TV Production, “TV Production With CareerTech #2.”

The videos can be seen on Oklahoma CareerTech’s YouTube channel.

Work-based learning is an integral part of the Oklahoma CareerTech System. It is a partnership between education and business to create a skilled workforce for both now and the future, Baird said.

“Connecting with professionals in a student’s chosen career field brings a wealth of insight and knowledge students can learn from. WBL allows businesses to be proactive in developing the workforce they need to be successful. Both students and businesses have the opportunity to learn about each other through WBL experiences,” he said.

To learn more about work-based learning, visit the CareerTech website or contact Baird at 405-743-6812 or h.l.baird@careertech.ok.gov.

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.

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

CareerTech Champions

Nathan Dial – Pontotoc Technology Center

Dragster races to the front of the classroom.

Then: His dad taught him self-reliance and independence at an early age. Nathan Dial said the two of them worked on go-karts and lawnmowers before his dad started teaching him about cars. When Dial was 14 years old, he built his own dragster. After that, he was hooked.

Dial received his formal automotive training at Pontotoc Technology Center, taking classes while working at a car dealership. He said he had barely started his coursework at the tech center when he decided he wanted to teach there. He carried out that dream nearly two decades later.

A 2000 graduate of PTC, Dial continued his education at Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology’s GM automotive program in Okmulgee. He was the youngest person in Oklahoma to receive the prestigious GM World Class certification.

After college, he began building his automotive shop while he taught small engine repair at Latta Schools. After 11 years in the public school classroom, Dial saw the opening he’d been waiting for – his perfect job.

He signed on as an automotive instructor at PTC about 18 years after he enrolled as a student there. He said the job is all about the opportunity to make a difference.

“I get to invest in the lives of our students in such a way that it probably changes the paths of their families for generations,” he said.

NOW: Dial’s students aren’t the only auto workers he oversees. He and his wife own Double D Automotive near Ada, Oklahoma, and manage a staff of six.

Dial said he enjoys building cars, but he enjoys building futures even more.

“I’ve had students who never even thought about going to college receive a $50,000 scholarship through our Hot Rodders program,” he said.

“I get to see their lives changed forever when they pursue fulfilling careers that happen to pay very well.”

Nathan Dial, auto instructor and shop owner

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