February was national Career and Technical Education Month, honoring an academic path that engages some seven million high school students annually (earning an average of 3.6 credits each) in preparing for college and careers. This year, two National Blue Ribbon Schools in New Jersey—Middlesex County Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering and the Morris County School of Technology—celebrated CTE in grand style.
At Middlesex County Academy, junior Roland Fong was the organizing force behind Engineering Week, February 17 – 21. Describing himself as someone who “has always loved and appreciated engineering,” Fong said he welcomed an opportunity to organize events where other students could share their enthusiasm for engineering.
The week’s activities included a poster contest [images], a “dress like a professional engineer” day, talks by local professional engineers, and an “Engineering Show and Tell” day, where students were invited to demonstrate any engineering technology that interested them. [images] Students in the school’s computer science club have been building robots and robots were popular show and tell features, Fong said. He described one student-built robot, a cube measuring one foot in each dimension, that could move around the room and even toss a ball. Other students brought in a radio-controlled helicopter, a student-developed business plan for an academy to teach engineering to elementary level students, and a floppy disk, cherished by its student presenter as the precursor to the CD. “To see students appreciating past and present engineering technologies and taking the initiative to pursue their own engineering endeavors, to me, really encapsulates the spirit of engineering innovation,” Fong said.
[Slogan] was the CTE slogan students at Morris County School of Technology came up with to capture the spirit of CTE month. Students also had a dress competition—based on Superheroes, the official CTE month theme. Building Science students made superhero costumes from their tools of trade—hardhats, tool belts, and hammers—while Cosmetology students created caped superhero costumes from towels and hair dye [I made this up; is there any other cosmetology-related item that saw use in a costume?] Students in Child-Related Careers courses worked with their charges—some 25 pre-schoolers attend Morris County School of Technology every day—to deck them out as superheroes, too.
In addition, students held a poster contest [image], organized a fund-raiser for SkillsUSA, a national career and technology educational program, and hosted a visit by New Jersey Congressman Leonard Lance, showing the congressman some of their work and talking with him about their post-graduate plans.