Career and Technical Education Promotes Industry Exploration for Eager Students
South Texas College hosts high schools touring technology facilities as part of nationwide CTE Month throughout February
Ashley Gonzalez, STC project manager with the Division of Business, Public Safety and Technology, assists a student from South Texas ISD as they explore the college’s virtual reality welding simulators Feb. 16. February is Career and Technical Education month nationwide. CTE month is celebrated yearly as a way to recognize the achievements and accomplishments of programs as they prepare students for high-demand careers.
Throughout February, South Texas College is enabling students to freely explore Career and Technical Education as they begin to consider future careers.
Eighteen students from South Texas ISD arrived at STC’s Technology Campus Feb. 16 as the latest in a series of visits to promote engagement through an intensive day-long slate of hands-on activities.
Developed as a collaboration between the college’s Business, Public Safety and Technology Division along with Dual Credit Programs for Career and Technical Education (CTE) month, the visit by students was an in-depth tour of STC’s welding program.
“We want to reinforce the message to students that they have options, and these options go beyond the traditional four-year route for degrees,” said Sara Lozano, STC Dean of Business, Public Safety and Technology. “By promoting our technical degrees, we put ourselves at the forefront of an exciting and innovative movement that places students into skilled workforce as soon as possible. CTE is the future.”
Students were exposed to college degree options as well as the various careers in the industry through the use of high technology applications, which included virtual reality welding simulators, an automated Computer Numeric Control plasma table and welding labs in operation.
“We have created a really different type of event that allows for interaction and hands-on activities to really show them what they are going to be doing in the classroom and how they can use these skills moving forward,” said Leonardo Castañeda, Director of Academies and Career Technical Programs. This is a different type of event designed to create more engagement through hands-on activities.”
“This whole month is focused on CTE, and again it’s producing students to be able to get out into the workforce so our local communities needs are met."
CTE month is celebrated yearly as a way to recognize the achievements and accomplishments of programs that are tasked with preparing students for high-demand careers. At South Texas College, the Career and Technical Education Institute specializes in working with industry partners who then hire STC students once they graduate.
“This whole month is focused on CTE, and again it’s producing students to be able to get out into the workforce so our local communities needs are met,” said Ashley Gonzalez, project manager at STC’s Technology Campus, who oversees career and technical education programs under the Division of Business, Public Safety and Technology. “This is why CTE month is celebrated across Texas and beyond. It’s important to be able to fill those gaps when we see labor shortages, and then making sure that the students graduate and complete their certification. South Texas College specializes in producing these skilled workers.”
Faculty from South Texas ISD attending the tour at STC’s welding facilities say they are looking to integrate STC programs into their schools, especially as the district seeks to open up welding to the entire student body by next year.
“South Texas ISD Science Academy is continually seeking to offer innovative opportunities to our students. Science Academy recently received a JET Grant of over $300,000 and will be utilizing these funds to purchase 20 new industry-specific welding stations and prepare students for immediate entry to the workforce in a high-demand occupation," said Eric Gutierrez, principal of South Texas ISD Science Academy. "Science Academy would like to thank South Texas College for inviting our students to the CTE Welding Program Showcase. Our students were excited to learn about STC’s program as well as the various welding industry applications.”
STC has Career and Technical Education events planned throughout February and into March. The college will next host high school students who will tour the Automotive and Diesel Technology labs on Feb. 24, and then Advanced Manufacturing on March 4.
“This is the first event of this type for high school students that we have coordinated as a series of events to highlight CTE Programs,” Castañeda said. “We have other events coming up and we want to continue to build those partnerships with the school districts to be able to introduce these programs to students. It’s all about engagement and informing about all these great Career and Technical Education (CTE) fields of study.”