Oklahomans Improving Their Economy Through Career Pathways Initiative by Tandy Banks

Aug 27, 2013 – Moore Norman Technology Center, Oklahoma City, OK

Over 280 people gathered to learn ways to improve partnerships in the initiative to improve Oklahoma State’s educational path. Participants at this event include legislators, educators, economic development directors and industry leaders. The event was hosted by the Southwest Oklahoma Impact Coalition (SOIC) – a voluntary partnership of colleges, career technology centers, economic developers and councils of government located in Southwest Oklahoma. The conference focus was on a case study of a pilot program called Career Pathways. Duncan Area Economic Development Foundation (DAEDF) is partnering with the Duncan Public Schools and Red River Technology Center to strengthen their STEM programs. Science Technology Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) programs are becoming more popular in many areas of the country. These programs help K-12 students learn the STEM disciplines through activity-based curriculum.OKC1

The Career Pathways initiative is to get industry and education working together to restore our aging workforce. Engineering and Manufacturing companies can help themselves by being proactive in the development of their future workforce. Several presenters echoed the need to educate, equip and prepare the students of today to become capable citizens. This initiative recognizes that knowledge alone is not an effective method to develop the needed skills. The STEM curriculum is perfectly suited to allow companies to support the activities taught in the classroom. This is done by providing awareness, plant tours, sponsoring contests and work shadowing programs. These companies benefit from the student’s excitement.

DAEDF has sponsored an engineering contest for several years which allows students to design, document, and build a car to race using CO2 cartridges as power plants. The Pitsco Metric 500 design criteria are used and students learn to build to specifications.  DAEDF hosts the race along with a regional job fair. The two activities allow companies to be available to answer student’s question about the real world. This is just one of the fun opportunities that foster the interaction between industry and the students.

By presenting the successes of this pilot program other communities can start their own programs; multiplying the opportunities for the students to become engaged in these great career fields.  Chad Foster, renowned speaker and author of Career Readiness for Teens, Financial Literacy for Teens and Teenagers – Preparing for the Real World provided the keynote address. Additional discussions were led by statewide leaders, economic developers, public school administrators and business owners. Topics included Connecting Education and Economic Development, Identifying Relevant Jobs in your Region, and Hands-on in the Classroom.

I was honored to be asked to present my personal journey to this great audience.  My path in this industry started very different than the traditional engineer.  My first two years were focused on Art and Pottery.  I was exposed to computers early in my education and started working with CAD in the classroom in the mid 1980’s.  I didn’t understand the connection between math, technology and art until later in my college career.  I did it the long way but eventually entered the engineering and manufacturing realm as a drafter and designer.  My art & technology background helped me greatly to understand design principles.  Because of this diverse and somewhat odd history, I was able to take the participants through the important aspects of engineering and design and explain how students that have varied interests can be a great asset to our industry.  I was also able to share some the great successes GoEngineer experienced through having over 230 students in our summer Kids Camps.

The conference ended with some great feedback and excitement from many Oklahoma communities that are eager to establish similar programs in their part of the state.  GoEngineer is poised to help those companies, schools and communities develop the needed partnerships and apply all of the great technologies in our portfolio.  SolidWorks suite of design & analysis products, Stratasys 3D printing & Altium ECAD are just a few of those tools that will help the next wave of great designers to become invaluable resources to tackle our next challenges.       #OKCP2013

Hosted by Southern Oklahoma Impact Coalition

Learn More:


OK Dept of Commerce

Career Pathways Conference






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