Team work. Collaboration. Time management. Communication. These are all skills employers are searching for when hiring the next generation of workers. They are also skills that employers time and again report as being in short supply in today’s labor market.
However, those sought-after skills were on full display recently for area business leaders as students in the innovative Capital Region Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) program took part in “shark tank” style presentations of their designs for the next generation of the international space station.
The students worked for several weeks on the project, conducting extensive research that even included underwater testing in the Mohonasen pool and developing 3-D models or large-scale posters to detail their designs to business leaders.
Serving as the “sharks” for the Dec. 12 presentation were Daniel P. Fruscio, regional manager of CAPCOM Federal Credit Union, John Skrobela, director of business lending for the Capital Region Chamber, April J. Ulrich, vice president of business banking relationship at Key Bank and Destiny Watkins, community development lending officer for the Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region.
The business leaders not only listened to the presentations, but asked questions and challenged students to elaborate and even defend their innovations. In the end, the business executives not only praised the students, but also the program.
“The young adults who participated in the presentations should be given multiple kudos for going above and beyond in learning a subject, working as a team, and presenting in front of an audience,” said Ulrich following the 90-minute presentation at the Center for Advanced Technology at Mohonasen.
“The program allowed the students to think outside the box and put together a well-rounded presentation that included their scientific knowledge and artistic ingenuity,” Watkins said. “It was a great experience to be a part of.”
For the students, the project was enjoyable, albeit stressful.
“It was pretty nerve wracking because of all of the people and we were being recorded. But presentations like today will help me later because I know I am able to present in front of a lot of people,” said Lora Condon, a P-TECH freshman from Mohonasen.
Classmate Elizabeth Hess agreed.
“The project was pretty neat but it was hard work. People worked together but they also got easily distracted so we had to constantly get them focused,” she said. “Still, combining science with a public presentation was neat and exciting.”
P-TECH is a four- to six-year program (grades 9-14) focused on engaging students in hands-on, project-based learning to be successful in careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Students who successfully complete the program earn a high school diploma and an associate’s degree at no cost in a high-tech field. Graduates are first in line for a job with industry partners in the growing field of information technology.
Approximately three dozen Capital Region students learn in the P-TECH program with business partners arranged through the Capital Region Chamber serving as their mentors.
“The nontraditional classroom setting, real world curriculum and hands-on approach to learning is an experience the students will be able to carry with them throughout their entire lives & careers,” mentor Dan Fruscio of CAPCOM said. “As a business partner within the community, we recognize that these students are our future and how important P-TECH is.”
Recruitment for P-TECH for 2019-20 school year is underway.
A pair of open houses to learn more about the P-TECH program will be held Jan. 9 at the Mohonasen Center for Advanced Technology and Watervliet Junior-Senior High School with two starting times – 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
For more information on the P-TECH program, go to https://www.capitalregionboces.org/capital-region-p-tech/ .