Southwest Ohio Tech Prep Consortium Visited Miami Hamilton on June 16

Assistant Professor Mazyar Amin gives personal instruction to Grant Career Center student Levi Antoni.

The Miami University Hamilton Campus recently played host to a dozen high school students from three counties for a day-long, hands-on workshop to encourage further education in science and technology.

The workshop was a project of the Southwest Ohio Tech Prep Consortium, part of a statewide initiative through the federal Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act of 2006.

"The Tech-Prep Consortium connects career center students with colleges, helping students navigate the application process, curriculum, financial aid," said Dr. Robert Speckert, Miami University Professor Emeritus who serves as the Manager of Articulation and Transfer for the consortium. "Part of it is bringing kids on campuses and getting them exposed to high-tech workshops."

In addition to Miami University, higher-education institutions involved in the consortium include Sinclair Community College, Cincinnati State, the University of Cincinnati, Shawnee State University and Southern State Community College. Locally, high school members of the consortium include Hamilton High School's Tech Prep Center and Butler Tech.

"The idea is getting faculty to communicate with each other, getting administrators to understand what the programs are, and setting up events like this where kids feel comfortable coming to a college campus, getting to know what that feels like," Speckert said.

"We work together on curriculum content," he said. "In the state of Ohio today, there's a system called the Articulation and Transfer Network that assures from college to college credits will seamlessly transfer and that credits earned at a career center like that at Butler Tech or Hamilton High School will count at college."

"It's bringing curriculum leaders and teachers together to inspire kids to stay with these fields," he said.

The day at the Hamilton Campus was the second day of the workshop for the students, who came from Aiken High School in Cincinnati, the Grant Career Center in Clermont County and Butler Tech in Butler County.

"They spent the first day at Cincinnati State University working with lasers. At Miami Hamilton, the agenda included 3D printing and working with micro-electric controllers, running experiments with temperature, proximity and audio sensors," Speckert said. "We try to bring in the analytical side as well as the fun, practical hands-on side."

The day also included information on how to apply for admission at Miami University Regionals and the financial aid available to the students.

"This workshop and the work of the consortium is just making a connection, telling the students that they can come to college and increase their earning power," Speckert said, noting that graduates of an associate degrees in technology can earn $40,000 a year, and a bachelors degree can earn in the upper $50,000 range. "And the job market is as hot as it can be," he said. "If they like this stuff the opportunities are fantastic for them."

Deon Edwards, an instructor at Aiken High School who brought four students to the workshop, said that many of his students don't even know what engineering means when they come into his program, but workshops like this help them get excited about the technology and career opportunities so that learning will follow.