LIBERAL, Kan. — Seward County Community College will continue its career and technical education partnership with regional high schools through its annual CTE Expo in the fall. There’s just one difference: in a move that mirrors global changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Tech Expo will take place online.
“We decided to get ahead of the uncertainty by scheduling an online conference-style event,” said SCCC Director of Business and Industry Norma Jean Dodge. “We’ve seen so many business organizations make that shift to webinars and digital delivery methods, it just made sense.”
SCCC Deans Chris Hickman (Industrial Technology), Dr. Suzanne Campbell (Allied Health) and Luke Dowell (Arts & Sciences), along with faculty and staff across campus, are already at work to craft an online conference tailored to the needs of high school students.
“The goal is to get those students engaged and ready to choose a career pathway,” said Dowell. “With our concurrent enrollment programs, it’s possible for high school students to explore an area of study, whether it is business administrative technology or computers, or welding. They might start now and finish an associate degree at the same time they complete high school or get a clearer sense of what they want to pursue after graduation.”
In the past, Hickman noted, the annual Career Tech Expo provided hands-on demonstrations of vocational skills, breakout sessions with future employers, and an open-air cookout.
“It’s so important for these students to picture a future where they can go to work and make a good living,“ he said. “For a lot of them, talking to a recruiter from an energy firm, or a local company that offers internships is that lightbulb moment.”
Computer monitors cannot enable a student to experience the wonder of looking through a microscope, or maneuvering a laparoscopic surgery tool, but instructors do everything possible to paint a clear picture, said Campbell.
“Our Medical Laboratory Technology program has been fully online for 15 years, and our respiratory therapy students have also experienced distance lectures, and of course, in the spring of 2020 all our programs shifted to remote emergency instruction,” she said. “That means our instructors have developed the ability to communicate on this platform, and they’ll build on that to connect with the Expo participants.”
Dodge added that employers and internship providers will be part of the Expo, with question-and-answer sessions available, and plenty of personal presence to interact with students.
SCCC programs participating in the Expo include Allied Health, Agriculture, Business, Computer Science, Energy Programs, Transportation Programs, and Manufacturing Programs.
The Expo is set for Sept. 30 via Zoom. To register for the free event, contact firstname.lastname@example.org (employers and business partners) or email@example.com (students and high school personnel), or call 620-417-1171.