Feb. 21 — Don Robinette was yelling at the Monongalia County Technical Education Center Tuesday afternoon, but it wasn’t because he was angry.
He was trying to make himself heard.
“Let me out for a minute,” he said. “It’s just a little noisy here.”
In fact, it could be argued that Robinette may have the largest lesson plan at MTEC.
He teaches welding at the Tech Center on Mississippi Street and includes all the clangs, rattles, and chunks you need (and many more clangs, rattles, and chunks). His classroom is a work site.
Robinette students can also learn the basics of industrial welding and get creative with heavy metal sculpting when required by lesson plans or competitions.
On Thursdays and Fridays, MTEC is bustling with frequent participation by all students from all disciplines for the traditional intra-skills competition judged by members of the business community.
All of the above includes all practical as well as other employment specifics such as mock job interviews and public speaking.
Students don’t get off there easily.
That part of the minutes includes the delivery of prepared remarks to the judges. Afterwards, we turn around and have on-the-fly talks and demonstrations of welding techniques, for example, in Robinette’s class.
“It’s always fun to see my students talking,” said the welding instructor. “That’s when the knowledge really comes out.”
He’s not bragging, but three of his students were offered jobs on the spot during last year’s event by judges representing trading companies that employ welders.
Hiring is the watchword, says Greg Dausch, director of MTEC.
Students here learn how to make a cherry pie and operate a plasma cutter. They can run restaurants or write computer code.
They learn all about healthcare and home building.
And they are hired. His MTEC graduates who work in the trading industry have been known to go straight from the field to graduation as they are already employed.
I mean, they’re already earning their paychecks.
“We are proud of them,” said the director. “They go out and do a good job.”
Learning a viable trade and being able to earn a living wage on it is more important than ever these days in the mountain states, say experts looking at education and labor trends here.
These watchers say that by 2030, 60% of state residents will need some form of secondary training to be able to compete in the job market.
And today, less than 50% of West Virginia high school graduates go on to traditional four-year colleges.
2030 is also the time when Mon’s school district wants to build a new, stand-alone high school dedicated to STEM. STEM is the pursuit of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics that the above people avidly observe.
Next, current Tech Center courses will be adapted for middle school instruction.
visit https://mtec.mono.k12.wv.us / Learn more about MTEC’s products here.