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October 17th, 2019

sccc logo 2017ROBERT PIERCE • Leader & Times


Students who are not yet sure of what they want to do for a career can come to Seward County Community College’s Industrial Technology campus Wednesday for some assistance in that capacity.

Originally called Manufacturing Day, the annual event has been renamed the Career and Education Tech Expo, and SCCC Business and Industry Director Norma Jean Dodge said this is primarily because while many businesses were coming to Manufacturing Day, many were not actually in the manufacturing business.

“So in order for them to continue to come, they said we could change the title where it incorporates everybody,” she said. “They could make that work. We had a little contest last year to change the name, and that’s what we did.”

Dodge said the reason for the event is to expose area high school students to SCCC’s career tech programs, but this year, other programs have been incorporated for the day.

“It’s not just our career tech programs,” she said. “We’ve expanded to our other CT programs, which include ag, computer information systems, business management and marketing, accounting, business and administrative technology and allied health. We’ve added those groups this year. We are looking at about 35 businesses, and we’re looking at 893 students.”

Students who attend the expo will go through presentations from businesses, and Dodge said they will get to pick the top four programs where they show interest. After that, IT secretary Teresa Troutner will assign a business for the student to go to for a presentation.

“Of those, one will be the Expo Center we have in the student union,” Dodge said. “There’ll also be businesses in there. We have 12 businesses currently that are in there they can go visit with and talk to as well that are not doing a presentation in a classroom setting.”

The expo has been part of the calendar for SCCC for several years, and in the past, Dean of Industrial Technology and Continuing Education Travis Combs said the event has gone well and has been well received.

“It’s definitely grown,” he said. “When we changed the name to CTE Expo, I feel like we brought in different industry partners, which ended up bringing in additional students just because we changed the name from Manufacturing Day to CTE Expo, where we were focused on connecting students with careers, employers and opportunities after they leave the program. A lot of times, students just don’t know what each program does and what opportunities are available to them after they’ve completed the program.”

With schools from Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas, as well as Kansas, Combs said the event has a good representation of the region.

“I wouldn’t say it’s just a Southwest Kansas group of students that come and teachers and administrators,” he said. “It’s really the region.”

Students will get to hear from many businesses in the area, including Colorado Manufacturing, Southwest Medical Center, PTCI, Tatro Plumbing, Foley Equipment and Seaboard and Seaboard Energy.

“We have Seaboard and Seaboard Energy,” Dodge said. “They’re two different entities now.”

Other businesses participating in the expo are Skyline Grain, National Carriers, Lewis Automotive, Foss Ford, Route 54 Garage, National Beef, Earle’s Engineering, Johnson Controls, Equity Bank, Phillips 66, Precision Body Shop and Conestoga. The college itself is doing a presentation as well.

With the amount of students expected for Wednesday, Dodge said presenters are excited for the day.

“I sent them e-mails yesterday, and they were excited about the numbers and how this is growing,” she said. “When we talk to some of these businesses, they realize what their retirement’s looking like and how did you get people exposed to what they’re doing. You might as well start at a younger age because some people probably just think of one company and think, ‘Oh they just do that.’ There’s so many things a lot of these companies than what people envision them as doing.”

Dodge said students can get great exposure to the different things the can do within a company.

“The main thing is to connect that business with our programs and hopefully to get those students to connect with the programs and eventually connecting to the employer,” she said. “The students come in. They see the different programs they’re interested in, and they also see how they can work with that company.”

Combs said he likes having students be able to pick four areas of interest for several reasons.

“One, students will be better prepared to listen to the industry partners that are here talking to them about the different types of jobs and careers available to them,” he said. “Two, they’re going to have more interest in being here versus just going through every program and going through the motion. Three, I think we have an expectation that faculty work with their industry partners to bring them in and do these types of events.”

Combs said the main focus of the expo is to not only educate students about what is available, but also to educate counselors, teachers and parents who come to the campus as well.

“While their students are transitioning through all of their programs and touring, the counselors, principals, administrators, parents, anybody who comes with the group of students, they’ll actually be sitting through some of presentations from the financial aid office, the VP’s offices, dean of student services,” he said. “The registrar will talk to them about the different services and access students have on campus.”

Dodge said this is a big highlight for counselors and teachers.

“That’s the thing I heard a lot last year when they were leaving,” she said. “They feel like that information was more to them because now they can help their students. They know about financial aid. They know about this is what to expect when they get here on campus. When the students come to them, the counselors and teachers get a little bit of an idea because they’ve already been exposed to some of that information by visiting with those key people on campus who’ll be working with their students once they’re here.”

The expo will get under way at 9 a.m. Wednesday at Louie’s Place on the IT campus, with the last session starting at 12:45 p.m.

“They should be done about 1:30 or so,” Dodge said. “In the past, we’ve opened it up to people who just wanted to walk through. They can still walk through, but we’re going to have a lot of people here. It’ll be busy. We’ve always had some people from economic development come through just to visit with the businesses. We’ve opened it up in the past. We just ask they check in the registration area. There’ll be a lot more traffic than there has been in the past.”

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