A Vaughn Middle School student and her friend lean in to each other, laughing excitedly that they are making a car honk remotely using a tablet—after that on the other side of the bay, another student eagerly shoots up his hand to volunteer tightening lug nuts with an electric torque tool.
Truckee Meadows Community College professors, students, and volunteers who are supervising the hands-on activities say that young students are sometimes unaware of in-demand technical career paths that pay well and might interest them.
On Friday, Feb. 16, it was automotive day for the Vaughn students who visited the William N. Pennington Applied Technology Center. The pilot project is the Building Partnerships with Vaughn program, spearheaded by Professor of Technical Sciences Wes Evans and the Technical Science instructors at the Center. TMCC Access, Outreach and Recruitment Manager Amber Burroughs, and Technical Sciences Specialist Jorge Rubio coordinate event planning and organization.
There were two other morning activity sessions in the Fall Semester, and two more are to come in the Spring Semester. Students will experience first-hand what training is like for careers in fields such as Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration (HVAC/R), job positions that pay well, some more than $50K per year.
“We’ve adopted them in the hopes to introduce them to the trades that are taught here at the Pennington Applied Technology Center,” Evans said. “Faculty from automotive, welding, HVAC, and machining are donating their time to demonstrate what we do here.”
The sessions are spaced about one month apart, and Vaughn teachers and counselors also support and volunteer during the program. This is the second year for the Building Partnerships with Vaughn program.
“At the end of the program, Vaughn will hold an award dinner here, to recognize volunteers from their school and TMCC, that also brings in the parents to see what we do here,” Evans said. “They give recognitions, and thank the TMCC faculty.”
Morning Activity Sessions in Each Trade
Each of the sessions lasts from about 10 a.m. until noon, and students travel to TMCC by bus. In addition to the hands-on projects, students have a worksheet booklet to keep notes in with the new terminology they’re learning, and the types of wires, diagnostics, weights and voltages used in the activities.
Students rotate to five different stations, involved in testing the performance of a Corvette, balancing a tire, and creating electrical currents to raise and dim lights, or turn on the radio.
“They receive more individualized help in smaller groups, so they’re engaged, learn about the trade, and spend more time with an instructor,” Rubio said. “We’d like to increase the amount of girls and diversity in TMCC technical programs, because they’ll be able to see that it’s totally possible to learn these skills.”
Some of the students may discover that careers they hadn’t previously considered could be right up their alley.
“We’d like to give these students the knowledge that a four-year degree is not needed for a fulfilling and well-paying career—that these are viable options for a good living,” Rubio added.
Training Session for Counselors
There was also a session on Friday, Feb. 23 for Washoe County School District (WCSD) staff members that covered the technical science programs offered at TMCC.
“We have a training event for WCSD counselors and mentors—they’re even going to do hands-on activities with the TMCC instructors to learn about each trade,” Rubio said. “Businesses will also come in and talk about jobs at their companies and starting pay.”
For more information about the Building Partnerships with Vaughn program, please contact Wes Evans in the Pennington Applied Technology Center at 775-856-5316.