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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Educators to share STEM workshop training


Written by Erica Lamberg, Correspondent

On May 20, Universal Technical Institute in Exton, Pennsylvania, welcomed more than 50 shop teachers and instructors from regional high schools to its campus for an Instructor Seminar Day. This daylong event offered high school instructors an opportunity to see how STEM is woven into Universal Technical Institute’s curriculum.

There were three local teachers in attendance: George Byrd, auto body and collision repair instructor at Somerset County Vocational Technical High School in Bridgewater; Anthony Cordasco, applied technology teacher at Hillsborough High School in Hillsborough; and Chris Scheuerman, automotive technology teacher at Hunterdon County Polytech Career and Technical School in Flemington.

The program included a comprehensive campus tour, an in-depth look at STEM across the country — particularly in the automotive industry — and three hands-on STEM workshops focused on Toyota Hybrids, Diesel Exhaust After Treatment Systems and Collision Training. All attending teachers received professional development hours for the day, as well as specific certifications for certain areas of focus.

Universal Technical Institute is the nation’s leading provider of technical education training for students seeking careers as professional automotive, diesel, collision repair, motorcycle and marine technicians.

“There is such a wealth of valuable information that’s passed on through Universal Technical Institute which I can in turn pass on to my students and even my advisory board and anyone else who would benefit from the resources and information I’ve gained,” Byrd said.

Byrd said a vocational career route is another path for students to consider.

“I really know it from being in this position and having been a student who came through vocational school myself,” he said “Students need to begin thinking about the long-term benefits of their college education and whether a four-year college will warrant the results they’re looking for in terms of career goals and aspirations.

“I personally think that going the vocational route helps to better prepare students for on-the-job training and arm them with the very specific skill sets they’ll need in order to be successful in their positions on the job. And further — vocational/technical education programs do a good job setting students up with in-demand careers.”

Byrd said he plans to share concepts and lessons from the instruction day with his students.

“I took away the concept that STEM is applicable to everything we do,” he said. “You don’t even realize in your teaching and in your academic environment that you’re constantly doing these things and applying STEM principles and how closely related they are to real-world, on-the-job tasks performed by automotive technicians today.

“Universal Technical Institute does a great job weaving STEM into their curriculum, and during last week’s event they did several live demonstrations that illustrated how they incorporate these STEM applications into the classroom and lab setting. I plan to take these example lessons and bring them back to my own classroom.”

This event demonstrates how educators at the post-secondary level like Universal Technical can partner with those at the high school level. It benefits not only the students but the instructors, he said.

“We are constantly learning something new every day,” Byrd added. “I’ve never seen things change as drastically as they have in the last 10 years in the automotive industry. In high school, students are learning the basics and they begin to really get into it. But because we are teaching the general courses in high school, there may be a lot of things that I can’t cover as a teacher. Post-secondary technical schools like Universal Technical Institute provide an additional option for these hands-on learners to further their education and become more specialized.”

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