During a time of critical budget cuts in education, Caddo Kiowa Technology Center is finding a way to take significant steps forward due to the appropriated 5.5% of the Oklahoma Lottery Education Trust Fund to the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education.
This year, the school received a grant from the lottery educational funds for additional upgrades to the Welding and Metal Fabrication program. Over the past couple of years, the program has upgraded to a 5’x10’ Robotic plasma cutting machine, Shop Outfitters tubing bender, automatic cutting pattern torch, Scotchman cold chop saw, Built Rite Power roll 4’x11 ga. and Bentenbender 10’x1/4” metal brake.
“Providing students with a learning environment that replicates the real world is our commitment. In 2014, we used the lottery grant to purchase essential equipment for the program and then this year, when our Business and Education Council made recommendations to complete the workplace simulation, we again, took action,” reported Superintendent Dennis Ruttman.
Earlier this year, the program received not only a $150,000 lottery grant to outfit their shop and workplace simulator, but they also received donated pipe from Petroleum Services in Woodward, Oklahoma. So when students started class this year, they found the shop equipped with a new Lincoln VRTEX 360 Virtual Welder, Bentenbender 8’ x 3/8” Hydraulic Sheer, Miller Pipe Pro welder. New tooling accessories and upgrades to existing mills and lathes are in in the process of being purchased.
For a program already in high demand from students wanting a spot in the classroom, the newest equipment and materials have just added to the buzz about CKTC’s Welding and Metal Fabrication program.
“I am ecstatic,” said Instructor Keith Theesen, who has taught the program for 22 years. “There have been such advancements in the industry over the years with no sign that the demand for welders will be decreasing any time soon. To be able to offer not only qualified training to the students but also a quality graduate to the industry is nothing less than spectacular.”
In a recent article in the Tulsa World, Skye McNiel, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Association of CareerTech Educators, reminds Oklahomans that during such critical economic times, we must remember the impact that Oklahoma technology centers has on education and the workforce.
“[Technology centers] educate more than 150,000 sixth through twelfth graders in almost 400 public school districts and 29 technology center districts. Programs range from agricultural education to business, marketing and information technology, to family and consumer sciences, to health careers, science, technology, engineering and technology education, as well as trade and industrial education,” said McNiel.
“Policymakers have the difficult job of making tough choices to tackle the $1.3 billion shortfall the state faces. And CareerTech has already shared in the pain of these difficult choices with more than a 7% cut to funding this year alone. But as Gov. Fallin has rightly pointed out, among one of the state’s greatest challenges will be increasing the number of students with workforce credentials or associate degrees. Current estimates show a 23-point gap between our current workforce and the skilled workforce required by 2020.”
It is such things as the lottery grants that provide much-needed, up-to-date equipment, donations made from supporters such as Jeff Wilson, owner/operator of Petroleum Services, staff with a passion for their trade and a board and administration with a vision for its district that training programs will thrive and students will succeed.
Did you know that long before the rubber hits the road in NASCAR, roughly 950 man-hours are spent on welding and fabrication for each race car? Hundreds of parts are hand-cut, welded and machined, from the chassis and suspension to the drivetrain.
For almost half a century, CKTC has provided career training, business and industry services and leadership programs to a rural district in southwest Oklahoma. Opportunities at CKTC range from business and health to science and transportation trades. Additionally, CKTC offers customized workplace training and short-term training. More information about CKTC is available online at www.mycktc.com or by calling 405.643.5511. CKTC is a proud member of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, which provides leadership and resources and assures standards of excellence for a comprehensive statewide system of career and technology education. The system offers programs and services in 29 technology center districts.