Creating Technical Scholars: A Model for Structured Pathways
This ATE project enables Eastern Shore Community College to establish the Creating Technical Scholars (CTS) program, which will bring together local high-tech employers, school districts, and four-year institutions to create flexible career pathways beginning in high school and potentially culminating in an associate's and/or bachelor's degree. This project addresses a weakness in short-term training programs that may prepare individuals for immediate employment, but do not serve students in earning more advanced degrees required for promotion to higher paying jobs within their chosen trade. As a result of this project, students enrolling in trade programs will have tracks available in a Technical Studies associate's degree to efficiently utilize classes already taken and to progress in clearly laid out pathways towards a degree that is customized. A key emphasis of the project is also on recruiting and retaining students who are typically underrepresented in STEM fields. Since the demographics and employer needs of Eastern Shore Community College align closely with those of other rural community colleges, and since the service area conditions of high poverty and unemployment and low levels of educational attainment are common, the pathways created may serve as a model to impact other regions nationally.
More specifically, the Creating Technical Scholars (CTS) program will create a seamless transition from secondary through post-secondary education to employment in STEM fields and high-tech positions. The model will include stacked credentials, internships, business/industry-designed curriculum, capstone experiences, and articulation agreements with baccalaureate institutions. The model will increase student success and boost economic development by increasing the number of workers and improving skill level, while meeting the needs of employers. There are four overarching project objectives which include: (1) To design dual enrollment technical tracks in career and technical education programs, allowing students to earn simultaneous high school and college credit as well as complete a career studies certificate in technical and occupational programs (Industrial Tech., Computer Tech., HVAC, and Electronics) during their junior and senior years. (2) To create a Technical Studies associates degree with tracks in Cybersecurity, Industrial Technology, HVAC, Welding, and Electricity as a means of targeting dual enrollment and certificate completion student in order to establish a pathway to upper division studies. (3) To establish articulation agreements with regional four-year institutions in technical study fields so as to optimize the educational pathway of students who want to transition from a 2-year degree to a 4-year degree. (4) To devise career tracks for students to begin careers in technical study fields after receiving a post-secondary credential. In this regard, the project leverages local business/industry partners, who will work with Eastern Shore Community College to provide work-based learning experiences, including internships, job-shadowing, discipline-related conferences, and skills competitions, in high-demand technical fields.