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Washington State Community College and Washington County Career Center connect via computers and robotics

Photo submitted by Washington State Community College A new partnership between the Washington County Career Center and Washington State Community College is recruiting current high school sophomores and juniors of the county to apply for the Robotics Automation Engineering program. Two open house events next week at the community college will allow prospective students and their guardians to tour the facility, ask questions and apply for no cost. (Pictured left to right: Mackenzie Myers, Erin Stewart, Kaleigh West and Kyle Somerville)

The clock is ticking down for a burgeoning partnership to be successful.

“Typically we don’t recruit students this late in the year, but this opportunity is so unique, it doesn’t happen unless we get at least 30 students to apply,” said Dennis Blatt, superintendent of the Washington County Career Center.

The need: a minimum of 20 Washington County high school sophomores and juniors with an interest in robotics.

The opportunity: to be the first cohort to learn robotics and advanced manufacturing applications while still in high school, graduate ready to work and already on track for an associate’s degree.

But while the new Robotics Automation Engineering program between the career center and Washington State Community College has gained some attention since their joint announcement last week, the initiative will still rely on the trust of local families to ensure its launch.

“Gary Barber from the college and I are going to the Appalachian Ohio Manufacturing Coalition (today) to talk about the program and ask for their support,” said Blatt. “But what we need is the students to apply. It’s not a done deal without them.”

Blatt explained that recruiting is underway at the center’s six partnering local high schools, with the hope to pique the interest of students who wouldn’t have otherwise considered an educational path through the career center.

“When we say computer technology in industry it’s about what’s running the manufacturing machines, all of the computers and components that are talking to each other,” Blatt said. “So industries in manufacturing have told us that they have the need, they need the young people to fill jobs in this technology field.”

And for students and guardians who might otherwise question if the program is within reach, three possible barriers have also been removed by the partnership.

“There is no cost, and outside of the requirement we have to enter the career center as a rising junior on track to graduate, we’re not going to set additional prerequisites at this time,” said Blatt.

In addition to the two benefits of secondary school education financing the advancement, Blatt noted, transportation will also be provided.

“Students coming from their home schools will be bused here and then bused to the college,” he described. “The equipment there is just state-of-the-art in their Robotics and Advanced Manufacturing Center.”

In a joint announcement with the center, Dr. Vicky Wood, president of WSCC, explained that the program’s curriculum will follow offerings designed by faculty of other Ohio community colleges including Belmont, Eastern Gateway, Zane State and WSCC.

“I am thrilled to strengthen the WSCC-WCCC partnership to expand educational opportunities for this region,” she said. “Not only will students in this program benefit from the WCCC and WSCC curricula, they will learn using the ‘Internet of Things’ curriculum that is being designed by faculty from four Ohio community colleges.”

The “Internet of Things” is a reference to the network of physical objects or “things” that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the internet.

Blatt also noted that with the current plan for the programming, students will then either return to the career center to complete their general education academic courses in the afternoons or complete those courses at the community college like other career center students.

“Then, with the opportunity to earn up to 30 college credits while still with us, they’re on their way to an associates degree, potentially by the time they graduate and are ready to enter the field, or get an engineering degree or something else related to the many industries,” Blatt added. “That also makes this region more approachable for new industries and companies to locate here, when we have a ready workforce that’s qualified to work for them.”

HOW TO LEARN MORE

The two open house nights are scheduled to highlight the program next week and are open to current Washington County sophomores and juniors.

“What’s also unique for this program is we’re accepting rising seniors, when typically you’d have to be entering your junior year to be considered by us,” added Blatt. “So we’re holding these open houses starting at the center and will walk people through, give them tours, answer questions the students and parents may have. And if you’re interested, you can apply that night.”

Both open house events will run between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. at Washington State Community College on Colegate Drive in Marietta on April 19 and 20.

Students may also apply to the program online at www.thecareercenter.net.

Parents and guardians may contact the WCCC guidance office at 740-373-2766 for more information.

The application deadline is April 30.

Janelle Patterson may be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.

If you go:

¯ Two informational open houses with tours of the Robotics and Advanced Manufacturing Center will be held at Washington State Community College on Colegate Drive in Marietta for high school families interested in the new Robotics Automation Engineering high school program.

¯ The events will take place on April 19 and 20; 7-8 p.m.

¯ Students may apply to the program online at www.thecareercenter.net or either night of the open house events.

¯ Parents/guardians may contact the WCCC guidance office at 740-373-2766 for more information.

¯ The application deadline is April 30.

Source: Washington State Community College.

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