IGNITE Fall 2018 - Page 20

“ I was astonished with the work I had done. I have never really challenged myself in engineering until I came to West. The engineering program really had an impact on my life and how I think because it changed my mentality as an engineer as a whole.” Jennifer, Grade 11 FROM THE CLASSROOM TO THE CONSTRUCTION SITE… OR THE CORNER OFFICE As part of the “apprenticeship”-style approach of the Engineering Technology Academy, West Catholic Prep educators work to bridge students from coursework experiences to higher education, internships, and post-graduation job opportunities. Each year, Baxter looks for opportunities to bring STEM-field professionals into the classroom, giving children the opportunity to broaden their understanding of what kind of jobs are out there, and how the lessons they’re learning today apply to future career possibilities. “Kids are shy, they don’t naturally reach out, so having an employer standing in front of the classroom is really helpful,” Baxter says. “We introduce them to different fields, to jobs that they may not have even realized were a thing.” “You ask yourself, ‘What’s a widget? Does someone out there make these things?’” Baxter’s insistence on connecting students to employers and other STEM professionals is paying off. In addition to half of last year’s ETA graduates going on to pursue four-year degrees in STEM fields, a number were able to secure internships at manufacturing companies. “Two students completed interships at KL Machine, Inc. in Bensalem, where they worked in an inspection room and created 3D models of various parts. Another two students began to learn support for manufacturing operations at Acme Corrugated Box Company in Northeast Philly.” “Another student was inspired by a visit from Target Building Construction, and she applied the very next day after their visit,” Baxter says. “What’s really cool is that she left high school with a year and a half of experience in construction management based on her own career identity formation within our program.” We know that process will be different for everyone, but we aim to help students know what opportunities exist along with the types of training and post-secondary education each one might require.” THREE PATHS TO CAREERS IN STEM West Catholic Preparatory Engineering Technology Academy gives students multiple paths for leveraging their mechanical and engineering knowledge into post- graduation success. Here’s a look at the routes students can choose to pursue. 20