Jamestown High School graduate Casey Love, a third-year electrical engineering major at RIT, recently worked with a Rochester company developing new technologies that will shape the future of many industries.
''I decided to take Robotics at Jamestown High School because it was so different from anything I had done,'' said Casey, who plans to obtain his master's degree in engineering and possibly a doctorate. ''I've always had an interest in computers and taking things apart to see how they work, so it seemed the right fit for me. I continued in Robotics II because the approach was much closer to real-world problem solving than other classes. In other lab classes, you walked through a set of steps to observe a property. Robotics labs were more practical especially in the engineering sense, in that there wasn't one definite solution. JHS robotics courses prepared me for the practical parts of my education. You have to be prepared for things to go wrong and not work the way you planned, including making last-minute adjustments.''
Robotics Engineering I and II are offered at JHS' Raymond J. Fashano Technology Academy. Classes in Information Technology I & II, Manufacturing Technology I & II, Motorcycle Maintenance, Drawing & Designing for Production, Technical Drawing, CAD and Advanced CAD, Small Engine Repair, Energy, Power & Transportation, Principles of Metal/Welding, VideoWorks, and Electronics and Digital Electronics are just some of the courses offered at the Technology Academy and Jamestown High School.
Jamestown High School seniors Aaron Beatty and Ralph Wallace work on their robots by creating computer programs to run specific actions during Robotics I.
''The classes offered at the Tech Academy give students the chance to sample future careers,'' said Casey. ''Without taking Robotics I wouldn't have considered being an electrical engineer. The core, fundamental classes like math and history are incredibly important, they teach you how to analyze situations and solve problems. But it's also important for students to learn what they want to do with their life. Classes like Motorcycle Repair allow students to look into a career and say, 'That's something I might want to do.'''
A PERFECT FIT
On both the national and state level, education leaders have declared ''college and career readiness'' as a fundamental goal of school reform. In a 2009 address to a joint session of the Congress, President Obama challenged every American to seek at least one year or more of education or vocational training beyond high school, asserting that a high school diploma is no longer sufficient to obtain a well-paying job.
It is estimated that four of every 10 new college students require remedial courses in college, and many employers estimate that a similar percentage enter the workforce inadequately unprepared. As a result, the National Governors Association has led the development and adoption of the Common Core State Standards, which define the nature and quality of literacy and mathematics that all students must acquire to graduate ''college- and career-ready.'' New York is one of 45 states to have adopted the Common Core Standards as the essential curriculum for ELA, Mathematics, and Literacy in Science, Social Studies, and the Technical Subjects. It is the latter part of the standards - literacy in technical subjects - that has drawn increased focus on the need for a more comprehensive curriculum in the technology courses that lead to career-readiness.
Jamestown High School technology courses have always incorporated math, science, English language arts, and visual arts. As students apply formulas and calculations using Ohm's Law in Principles of Metal/Welding, learn about acids, bases and chemicals in Electronics, and read technical manuals and write technical reports in a variety of technical subjects, they are using their knowledge of core subjects in hands-on, real-life applications.
''It is predicted that nearly 80 percent of future job openings in the next decade will require postsecondary education and training,'' said Jessie Joy, JPS Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment. ''We have done well to integrate core academics with our technology courses, since it is important that we develop all students' skills in reading, writing, mathematics, critical thinking, and problem solving. These skills must be developed to an even higher degree, even when a student does not plan to attend college, but wants to be competitive in a highly-skilled, technologically sophisticated job market.''
Ms. Joy expects that the Common Core Standards will lead to further enhancements of JHS technology courses. ''Careers with potential for advancement and solid earning potential require skills in reading and writing, particularly text that is technical, scientific or informational in nature. This can be more challenging to read and understand than fiction or literature that is typically read in the English classroom. Students must learn and practice specific skills for reading technical and scientific text, which can be most effectively supported by a teacher with expertise in the subject that they are reading about. Research shows that those who are most successful beyond high school, whether in college or career, have the skills that they need to continue learning on their own, without the regular guidance of a teacher. This means that they must be able to learn new information through reading, as well as solve complex problems without immediately obvious solutions. They also need to be able to communicate their ideas and conclusions in writing in order to work with others and advance further in their careers.''
TYPES OF TECHNOLOGY CLASSES AT JHS
JHS offers a wide range of courses. From those who may be interested in pursuing a degree in engineering to those seeking immediate employment, the technology department offers a niche.
Robotics Engineering I focuses on the design, construction and programming of robots. Strong math and science skills are required plus an aptitude for design and function. Robotics I teaches real-world robotics using the LEGO Robotics and RoboLab computer program, which NASA uses. Robotics Engineering II focuses on structural engineering, physics and power and adaptation of a product for multiple applications. Robotics II builds more complicated robots and more involved data collection and graphing of projects. using science and math components.
''I feel technology classes like Robotics allow students to see the application of what they are actually learning in the core classrooms,'' said JHS technology teacher Scott VanStee. ''Math, science, history and technical reading and writing are all used in the technology courses. It is extremely important that they can take what they learn and apply it to the real-world.''
Manufacturing Technology I and II is a computerized lab-based course, which introduces students to real-world applications using math and science. Students complete hands-on activities using CAD, CNC, lathes and mills, quality control, pneumonic and hydraulics to manufacture a specific project. CAD and Advanced CAD is the use of computers to produce technical drawings, which will interest future engineering, architectural and technical students. In Advanced CAD students move into small home design and creating and reading blueprints.
''Technology classes are important for students to take because I have yet to see a robot plumb or wire a house,'' said JHS technology teacher Daryl Damcott. ''We still need hands-on, problem-solving skills even if the student decide not to make it a career, the knowledge is still applicable to everyday life.''
Drawing & Design for Production (DDP) is a new course this year and is hybrid of drafting and woodworking. It gives students the opportunity to see the production process from start to finish.
''I plan to major in mechanical engineering either at University of Buffalo or RIT,'' said JHS senior Kyle Hinman, who has taken Technical Drafting and will take CAD next semester. ''I thought DDP would help me gain designing and production skills before I enter college. One of the biggest things I learned through this course is time management and how important that is in the production process.''
JHS' Electricity & Electronics course focuses on the practical application of electrical wiring skills. Students study electronics, residential, commercial and industrial wiring methods. They construct electronics circuits, read wiring diagrams and build various electrical systems. Digital Electronics introduces students to applied digital logic through the study of digital circuits and systems found in homes and commercial electronic equipment.
''I have always been interested in fire alarms and security systems and how they work,'' said JHS senior Dakota Hunter, who will be attending JCC next year for its IT Program. ''All technology fields desperately need qualified workers and by taking these courses in high school we can determine what niche we like and gain valuable experience.''
''Technology students make more productive and prepared citizens by taking skills learned in class and applying to everyday life,'' said JHS technology teacher Chris Jewell. ''But we also have students working for NASCAR that have gone through the Information Technology classes.''
Information Technology I covers basic skills in computer operation and repair, web development, networking, computer architecture and business skills. Students focus on understanding, and troubleshooting, hardware and software systems. Information Technology II covers communication, software development and applications. Students continue to work on web development, networking and E Business skills.
''I have a strong interest in computers, especially network security,'' said JHS senior Terrance DeJesus, who is also interested in attending RIT. ''Having courses like Information Technology lets us find our unique abilities. They are a great investment in our future.''
Small Engine Repair includes engine construction and principles including two-cycle and 4-cycle engines, carburetion, fuel, ignition, engine cooling systems and troubleshooting. Motorcycle Maintenance & Repair provides a well-equipped lab for students to work on and repair motorcycles. Principles of Metal/Welding includes all types of welding, ARC, MIG and TIG. Student work on real-life projects and graduates are working in welding at local companies such as Hope's Windows.
''Not every student is college-bound,'' said JHS technology teacher Larry Bentzoni. ''There is a great need for welders and small engine repair personnel. Many students love the hands-on aspects of these classes, along with the potential for employment right out of school. All technology classes use math, which helps students see how their regular coursework applies to the real world.''