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Government and Industry See OSU-Okmulgee's Advancing Technologies Showcase as Early Recruiting Too

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

(Okmulgee) -- Government and business are so anxious to fill a growing number of job vacancies for technical professionals, they sent representatives to Oklahoma State University-Okmulgee’s 11th Annual Advancing Technologies Showcase held recently.  Billed as an exciting introduction to careers as technical professionals, the event drew counselors and instructors from secondary schools and career technology centers all over the state, along with busloads of nearly 6,000 young students to explore the campus.  

New this fall was the eagerness of representatives from business, government and industry to have an expanded presence at the showcase, so they could meet students and encourage them to consider an education path leading to a degree as a technical professional.  Working with academic divisions and advisory board members, the representatives contributed to a dazzling array of demonstrations and exhibits that showcased exciting careers in the fields of automotive, culinary, visual communications, health, construction, engineering, watchmaking and information technology. 

“There is a growing and acute shortage of workers with highly skilled technical capabilities,” says OSU-Okmulgee’s president, Bob Klabenes.  “The corporate world realizes the need to reach out to middle school students, freshmen and sophomores and make a case as early as possible for choosing a technical career.  Here, the industry representatives can demonstrate their products and influence young people during their formative, decision-making years.” 

HEATING, VENTILATION AND AIR CONDITIONING (HVAC) - Johnson Controls presented nationwide career opportunities in the Heating and Air Conditioning/Refrigeration Building. Representatives from Oklahoma City explained that OSU-Okmulgee has been invited by Johnson Controls, Inc. to participate in CareerConnect, a collaborative program dedicated to training the next generation of HVAC technicians. It was an eye-opener both for visiting students and college students already enrolled. 

OSU-Okmulgee student Jacob Roundtree, an HVAC major from Page, Arizona, attended one of the sessions. “After the lecture, I realized how big the air conditioning industry is. There is residential, commercial and industrial – a million different things.  And, you can work in the control side or the construction side.   There are big companies out there that are world-wide. There is a lot more for a person to do in the air conditioning industry than I imagined when I was in high school.” 

Larry Beatty, branch service manager for Johnson Controls, Inc., was one of the presenters during the showcase. “I think we had good success exposing the HVAC industry to high school students,” he said. “We also had success in visiting with current OSU-Okmulgee HVAC students. There is a critical need for new technicians, and we want young people to know there is a lot of opportunity in the air conditioning industry."

Roundtree, who just completed an internship at Air Assurance in Broken Arrow, says college is an important link to that opportunity for him. “I learned a lot while I was working for Air Assurance, but I wouldn’t have been able to understand as much if I hadn’t enrolled in college first. I was able to apply what I learned in the field.”

WATCHMAKING - The Swiss Watch industry sent representatives from luxury watchmakers Audemars Piguet, Breitling, The Richemont Group, The Swatch Group, and Rolex to help greet visitors to the Watchmaking classrooms. The executives brought in a number of luxury watch displays and interacted with students as they observed demonstrations by Watchmaking students. 

One representative of a popular luxury watch brand enjoyed discussing the need for watchmakers with an almost endless line of students touring OSU-Okmulgee’s Watchmaking classrooms. Tulsa Technology Center students Joe Guthrie, Bubbe Horn and Kevin Turnage said afterwards they had no idea how complex and intricate watches were.

Another watch industry representative encouraged students to try the many manual dexterity tests administered by first-year watchmaking students.  Many discovered that manipulating tiny parts with tweezers takes a lot of focus and concentration. 

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES - The National Defense Cyber Crime Institute (DCCI) is also looking for technical professionals to help with the ever-increasing need to stop hackers and catch cyber criminals. Information Technologies Division’s guest speaker, Special Agent Jim Christy, is nationally known for his role as the original case agent in the “Hanover Hacker” case, which involved catching a group of Germans hacking Department of Defense computer systems and selling the information to the Soviet KGB.

Christy spoke at two sessions, both packed with future Information Technology professionals from Oklahoma secondary schools and Career Techs. He emphasized the need for IT technicians is growing as fast as the Internet is expanding, and for national defense that’s vital. “Networks and the Internet are part of our weapons system,” Christy told students, “and the integrity of that weapons system is paramount. Cyber security is not just about email and shipping packages around the world. The Predator drones that fly over Iraq are flown from the Southwestern U.S.  Then, data is sent back to another location where it’s analyzed and targeted and the weapons that are on the drones are re-targeted in flight.”

Tulsa Technology Center student Gregory Golden says Christy’s presentation was interesting and informative.  “My peers and I agree that the showcase influenced us to continue pursuing our IT education.  I am seriously considering attending OSU Okmulgee because of the impressive variety I saw at the Showcase.”

Comparing Christy’s presentation to a popular television show, another Tulsa Technology Center student, Mary Anne Smith, said, “I learned that there is a lot more to the field of forensics than you see on CSI.” 
Several students came away from Christy’s presentation more convinced a career in the field of cyber security and forensics was what they wanted.  “The information I received from Mr. Christy helped me decide to go towards an education in security and forensics at OSU-Okmulgee,” said Tulsa Technology Center student Jacob Murphy. 

The latest cyber crime-fighting technology was on display in the university’s AT&T Cyber Security labs. Driving more than 100 miles to see a forensic recovery computer – among other things – were Lee Armstrong, Nissa Miller and Aaron Harris along with instructor Jerry Henderson from the Internetworking Technology (INTECH) program at Southern Oklahoma Technology Center in Ardmore.

TOYOTA T-TEN - Toyota representatives from all around the country participated with the Toyota exhibits and demonstrations.  Jerry Biddle, Toyota Faculty, says he had two representatives from Toyota Motor Sales in California, three people from Gulf States Toyota, two master diagnosticians – one from Norton Toyota in Tulsa and one from Janzen Toyota in Stillwater – four other representatives from Jim Norton, two from Bob Howard in Edmond, a service manager from Dub Richardson in Oklahoma City and a service manager from Street Toyota in Amarillo.

“The service managers greet the students as they come in,” said Biddle.  “They ask the students if they are interested in an automotive career with Toyota, where they are from and how they can be contacted.  At first, many students don’t understand they may be talking to a future employer.”

Biddle says one instructor mentioned that once his student realized he was talking to a service manager, he saw the conversation in a whole different light.  He said, “Wow, this man could be my next boss!”

One display that drew a lot of student interest was the Toyota T-TEN electrical trainer.  It exhibited everything in a car that has a wire to it.  The student in charge of the trainer said he was bombarded with questions throughout the day.  Other displays included a Toyota Land Cruiser, a Lexus sports car and the Scion Street Team group from Houston.  A radio-controlled Micro Reality model race car track -- also drew a big crowd.

Thirty-two OSU-Okmulgee students in the Toyota T-TEN program were on duty, assisting with the event.  Gulf States Toyota Technical Capacity Manager, Don Cole, noted the dedication and pride shown by the students during Showcase.  “I’m impressed with the respect for the program these students demonstrated as they helped in so many ways.”

Biddle was pleased with the dedication of his Toyota sponsors.  “This is a big deal to the Toyota service industry.  We had thirteen service representatives from four states greeting and visiting with students.  That’s pretty awesome!”

Activities at the Advancing Technology Showcase included hands-on experiences and displays such as:  dragsters, hotrods and specialty cars in Automotive Technologies; pole climbing and conduit bending in Construction Technologies; flow loops, programmable logic controllers, AutoCAD and surveying in Engineering Technologies; Caterpillar earth moving equipment in the Heavy Equipment & Vehicle Institute; pedorthics, nursing and orthotics in Health and Environmental Technologies; food preparation and ice carving in Hospitality Services Technology; photography and web design in Visual Communications Technologies; and a tour and exhibit in the new Grady W. Clack Student Success Center.

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