Technical center adds polymer chemistry, auto mechanics
Published 10:10 am Wednesday, May 27, 2015
New and improved programs at the Brookhaven Technical Center will mean more hands-on experiences that will benefit students, whether they choose to enter the workforce or further their education after high school.
Polymer Science and the return of a revamped Automotive Technology program will join the Teacher Academy program that was offered at the vo-tech this past school year.
Herschel O’Bannon, BTC counselor, said the addition of the programs is a point of pride.
“We’re thrilled. Of course we want the building filled, and we want the students to have every opportunity they can to experience new things in their education,” O’Bannon said. “And that’s really one thing that’s so nice about the Technical Center here that makes it different than their high school classes. Here, they go into a lab and work, they don’t just do classroom work at a desk. They learn things in the classroom, and
then apply it in the lab.
“They put it out into motion, like in Teacher Academy they go to the schools and observe and get to work with the students there,” he said. “In our Health Sciences class, they learn in the classrooms then they take that and learn and observe in the hospital and in the nursing homes in the area. They’re not always sitting at a desk, they are applying what they’ve learned to do and I think that’s what most of our students enjoy about being over here.”
The Automotive Technology program is being reintroduced after gauging student interest and revamping the curriculum. O’Bannon said a few years ago interest dwindled, and they stopped the program. They still had fairly new equipment they did not want to lose. He said the equipment is nice, and he is very pleased with the number of students that have already signed up for the program.
“They will learn about all the basics, […] air conditioning, electrical, diagnostic – which is such a big important part of automotive technology now,” O’Bannon said. “They plug in and actually check it with a computer to see what’s wrong with the cars. It features classroom and laboratory work where they work out on actual vehicles in the lab.”
O’Bannon said the program will help students get in to an entry-level job as a mechanic or at a dealership and have a really good background going into on-the-job training, which most positions offer. He said for those not entering the work world, the Automotive Technology program is a great pre-requisite to Copiah-Lincoln Community College’s auto program.
Students can get chemistry credit for completing the two-year course in Polymer Science, O’Bannon said, and the pathway also allows students to prepare for employment or continued education in the occupations of plastics and polymer materials manufacturing.
“Polymer Science has to do with plastics and the compounds that make up plastics and the production of plastic materials, so it is a little specialized in that sense,” O’Bannon said. “We will be hopefully working with and learning more about this through the University of Southern Mississippi, as they have a Polymer Science program. So if students have an interest in that field, this would give them a really good background and a good foundation to head in that direction.”
Adding programs is not as common an occurrence at BTC as state curriculum changes are, with the exception of the Teacher Academy, added in 2014. The year-old program places education-minded students in schools working alongside teachers and elementary and middle school children.
O’Bannon said the Technical Center is excited about the expansion and the opportunities for Brookhaven High School students to get ahead of the curve, whichever direction they choose.