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"Reaching the Stars" Career Technical Education summit
Article Type: University and research news From: Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology: An International Journal, Volume 80, Issue 3.
Aerojet, a GenCorp company, along with former NASA astronaut Ken Reightler and Aerojet president Scott Neish, recently helped launch California's first annual Career Technical Education (CTE) Summit. After seeing the benefits of CTE in action, lawmakers were urged to expand CTE instruction in the state's schools.
Reightler and Neish were joined by Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, Attorney General Jerry Brown, Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, legislators, educators and dozens of students from around the state who demonstrated the skills they have gained through CTE by exhibiting robotics, construction, agriculture, engineering, aerospace, biotechnology and other career area displays. “CTE has been shown to remarkably impact many students' desires to remain in school and to revitalise their commitment to education,” said featured speaker Ken Gray, author of the book Other Ways to Win. “We need to ensure that students know there are multiple pathways, in addition to college, that they can take to be successful and fulfilled.”
“The message coming out of this summit is very clear,” said Jack Stewart, President of the California Manufacturers and Technology Association and Co-chair of the GetREAL coalition, which hosted the summit. “Career technical education improves academic achievement, makes school more relevant, provides students with new career and educational opportunities and is vital for the long- term health of California's economy.”
GetREAL Co-chair and President of the State Building & Construction Trades Council of California, Bob Balgenorth agreed: “Career technical education is a proven winner with students, parents and the public. Expanding CTE will encourage more students to stay in school, teach them the value of work and give them skills that will benefit them whether they choose to attend college or begin their careers after graduating from high school. It opens the door to good- paying jobs in a variety of exciting and vital fields,” he said.
The summit featured a NASA exhibit and panel discussion about the Constellation Program's Orion, the crew exploration vehicle to be used for missions to the moon and eventually to Mars. “Career Technical Education gave me the foundation to launch my career in the electronics and aerospace industry. It provided me with the skills I needed as a technician to work at Aerojet on many programs, including NASA's Orion program. In my 25 years in the field, I have always seen a real demand for skilled technicians and we must do all we can to ensure we have these highly skilled workers in the future,” said Aerojet Instrumentation and Controls Engineer, Kevin Schneider.
Aerojet President Scott Neish agreed: “Aerojet will play a major role in the development and build out of the Orion propulsion elements. Our employees' technical education and skills will be the key to success. We are actively involved with education throughout the Sacramento region and are very supportive of the Career Technical Education Summit.”
The summit also featured testimonials from parents, teachers and students who have benefited from CTE, along with business owners who warned about a growing shortage of skilled workers. “It's getting increasingly difficult to find workers with the skills and knowledge needed in today's high- tech workplace,” said ACE Clearwater President Kellie Johnson. “My business and California's economy can't compete without skilled workers, making the need to expand CTE instruction very urgent and very real.”
Legislators discussed ways to expand CTE and agreed on a resolution to support state and local education policy reforms to make CTE an integral part of every student's education. More than 50 democrats and republican legislators signed the resolution, “I have proposed requiring all high school students to take a minimum of two CTE courses in order to graduate,” said State Senator Tom Torlakson. “We need to ensure that the Legislature takes action and restores CTE to its rightful place in California education.”
St. Francis High School freshman, Ashley Peng, discussed one CTE- related project that has made an impact on her career choices. “Our team spent six weeks building this robot. It was great that so many people and so many different companies were able to see what my team has accomplished,” she said. “My robotics team makes me look forward to going to school, learning new skills, and pursuing a career where I know I can use the skills I've learned.”
It is clear that CTE allows students to explore potential careers and reinforces the theories and concepts of core academics through hands-on application. The “Reaching the Stars” Summit demonstrated that California cannot afford to keep twenty-first century technical education from its students. NASA astronaut Ken Reightler might have said it best in his concluding presentation, “Who will be the next generation that will get us to Mars?”
Aerojet is a world-recognised aerospace and defenso leader principally serving the missile and space propulsion, and armaments markets. GenCorp is a leading technology-based manufacturer of aerospace and defenso products and systems with a real estate segment that includes activities related to the entitlement, sale and leasing of the company's excess real estate assets.