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Creating a dependable talent pathway

How GO TEC® is using Pitsco resources to inspire the next generation of technology and engineering graduates

Published February 7, 2024
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CTE stakeholders collaborating on the GO TEC® program understand only too well the importance of building a pipeline of exceptional talent. Inspired by Virginia’s booming technology and engineering industries, GO TEC’s leader, the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, partners with schools, industry, and higher education institutions across the state to deliver engaging STEM programs in key strategic sectors.

Under the GO TEC talent pathways, students undertake programs in sought-after areas such as precision machining, welding, IT coding and networking, automation and robotics, and others. The aim is to “develop regional workforces across the Commonwealth of Virginia in order to meet changing industry demands,” says GO TEC Technical and Training Manager Jacob Taylor.

TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES

Students’ first experience of GO TEC begins in middle school, where they’re introduced early to the occupations and base skill training in Career Connections Labs. This continues in high school through expanded career and technical courses, industry certification programs and dual-enrollment training opportunities with higher education partners. If they choose, students can then progress to advanced-level training at a hub educational provider.

However, sourcing reliable equipment for its award-winning talent development model hasn’t always been easy – especially when it came to redeveloping the program’s Mechanical Engineering module. “We wanted to create an activity that provided students with the opportunity to tackle a problem using multiple iterations of the engineering design process,” explains Taylor. It was this mission and their need for a suitable structure testing device that led them to Pitsco.

“Through web searches, one of our instructors [...] found the Pitsco Structure Tester and ordered one for testing.” Suffice to say, it’s made a big difference in the classroom. With the support of Pitsco’s tools and educators’ tuition, students can now analyze their failed truss designs, make the necessary alterations, and then test to analyze the results of their improvements. Following its success, GO TEC is also planning to use Pitsco’s testing instruments to develop other similar activities to enrich student learning.

It’s these kinds of hands-on learning experiences, together with GO TEC’s talent pathway model, that inspire students to explore in-demand careers that might be of interest. For Taylor, the benefits to the wider community and local economy are also crucial. “Our CTE programs serve as economic development collateral and as a showcase for prospective industries’ future trained and skilled workforce.” The talent pathway model also provides “flexibility to meet the various regional needs, while maintaining the same structure and approach that has proved so successful.”

BIG AMBITIONS

Since launching in 2018 with three pilot programs, GO TEC has gone from strength to strength. It now has more than 25 Career Connections Labs across Virginia and partners with more than 19 public school divisions, with confirmed plans to grow to 44 schools in the current five-region footprint in 2024. Yet the initiative, which receives substantive funding from GO Virginia, along with matching funds from partner institutions and philanthropy, doesn’t intend to stop there.

“In the next five years, I look for GO TEC’s coverage area to include at least two more regions in the state and to build out existing training pipelines in our current coverage area to include a continuous pipeline of talent from middle school to career,” says Taylor.

With nearly one million Virginia technology and engineering job openings predicted by 2026, it’s clear GO TEC’s work will continue to play a vital role in meeting the state’s evolving talent needs.


Read all articles in our full publication, Hands-On Heroes: CTE Stories of Innovation and Impact.

“One student was carrying his structures project home when he met his mom. He explained what he did and what we would be doing all week. Then, he said, ‘Mom, this was so fun. I can’t wait to come back to school tomorrow.’ In all my 15 years of teaching summer school, I’ve never heard that.”

– Mario Dicarlo, Taylor Elementary, Santa Maria, California

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