(HUTTO, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s East Williamson County campus participated in the Taylor Chamber of Commerce’s Trades Day Career Fair on Wednesday, March 1, at the Williamson County Expo Center.
Tia Rae Stone, the chamber’s president and chief executive officer, said the event’s purpose was to have area students think about their career options in trades that need workers.
Faculty members from TSTC’s Culinary Arts, Precision Machining Technology and Welding Technology programs used visually stimulating activities for the more than 1,000 area middle and high school students in attendance to watch and ask questions about.
Apolinar Ruiz, lead instructor in TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology program, used a 3D printer, design software and a small version of a programmable logic controller to design and create models of dinosaurs and turtles. He also showed videos explaining more of what the equipment does.
“I want to get the high school students in for the fall semester,” Ruiz said.
The 3D-printed animals were used as prizes for students who took part in a butter-churning contest. Chasey Davis, an instructor in TSTC’s Culinary Arts program, said some of her students filled more than 400 small capsules with heavy cream. Ten middle school and high school students took part every half-hour in a contest to shake the canisters to create butter.
Davis brought some of her Culinary Arts students to the event. She said this was a field trip where they would be graded on their soft skills. Davis said the event also got her students out of their comfort zones.
“I get to use them as an example (for the middle school and high school students),” Davis said. “They can see our students in their chef’s coats.”
The Welding Program used a virtual reality welding simulator for students to get an experience in welding.
NeKeida Pierce, a college and career counselor at NYOS Charter School in Austin, brought 30 high school students to the event. She said she wanted the students to leave the event thinking about the new career options that they were exposed to.
“We will have a debriefing over lunch, and each one will have a literacy assignment after,” Pierce said.
Courtney Nuckols, a counselor at Thrall Middle School, brought more than 60 eighth-graders to the event.
“We gave them some information so they would learn about different programs,” she said. “I am just hoping they feel excited about learning new things and seeing the possibilities.”
Nuckols said she would do a lesson highlighting career exploration after the event to determine if students’ interests are changing.
Representatives of Taylor’s fire and police departments were present, along with representatives from the Texas Department of Public Safety. Staff from Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area, as well as EPCOR, Samsung Austin Semiconductor and TASUS, also had information tables.
For more information on TSTC, go to tstc.edu.