BTC prepares for the future

Published 9:52 am Wednesday, September 23, 2015

What most of us know as “vo-tech” has changed through the years. At one time, vocational and technical programs at high schools only taught things like welding and carpentry. In many rural areas, those courses centered around farming.

But things have changed. It’s no longer called “vo-tech” and the courses are no longer limited to those that prepare students to enter the workforce.

At Brookhaven Technical Center, there are programs that give students a glimpse of a future career — and prepare students to further their education at a community college or trade school. There are also programs aligned with a four-year university degree.

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The center’s recently revived auto mechanics program teaches students more than how to change oil or fix a flat. The program has state-of-the-art equipment, and will prepare students to enter a similar program at Copiah-Lincoln Community College or give them a leg up if they move directly to the workforce.

The teacher of the program, Theron Edwards, went through the same program as a student years ago.

“I’m definitely glad it’s back. I’m proud to be instructing it because I’ve come through this program right here,” Edwards said. “I graduated from this program, went to Co-Lin. But this program is well-needed in the community because even if they don’t go on to be technicians […] this is always something they can use. I feel it’s very important and, as you can see, all kids are amazed by automobiles.”

The polymer science program at BTC is also new this year and is taught by Leah Ann Peavey, a degreed polymer scientist with years of experience in chemistry education and industrial research and development.

The program prepares students for study or employment in a variety of fields, including metallurgy, polymers, plastics, ceramics, coatings and composites. Students receive hands-on training in design, processing, troubleshooting, application and testing of such material systems, from raw materials to finished product. Students operate high-tech processing equipment and design parts using CAD software and 3-D printing.

The program is a far cry from the types of courses that were once taught at technical schools. The digital media technology program is as well. Students develop, design and implement projects using state-of-the-art Apple iMac computers with Adobe professional software, Final Cut Pro X software, motion software and Logic Pro X software. The course focuses on the basic areas of photography, graphic design, multimedia design, animation design and video and music production.

There are several other programs at BTC, and they all play a vital role in preparing more students for the future. Brookhaven is fortunate to have the technical center and leaders who see the value in the programs there. Hopefully, the county school district can create a similar facility — or partner with BTC to educate its students in Brookhaven.