Districts are weaving high-tech training into vocational classes to ensure students have the technical ability they’ll need before graduating from high school, District Administration reports.
Electric and self-driving cars, for example, are transforming what students in auto shop programs need to know, with students in Utah's Weber School District, for example, learning new procedures like replacing high-voltage battery cells in a Toyota Prius. The students can also gain professional experience by competing for internships with local car dealerships.
Funding sources to equip schools with these new tools range from grants to students getting creative with their skills, with those in Texas' Mesquite ISD, for instance, building and auctioning cars to people in the community while also doing routine maintenance on teacher-owned vehicles. Earnings from these efforts go back into courses.
With increased recognition to the fact that some students may want to forgo college for a direct path to vocational careers, many schools are looking to beef up the CTE classes they offer while also enhancing their tech course offerings.
Auto shop is one of the longest-running career and technical education programs in high schools, and among the most impacted by technology. The field is swiftly changing as students need to have as firm a grasp of computer technology alongside mechanical and engineering skills. While some of this shift has come as adoption of electric and hybrid cars has grown, even vehicles with standard combustion engines are likely to have a computer under the hood.
Many other popular high school CTE fields are also changing the scope of their curricula as technology becomes standard in nearly every career students will likely pursue, whether they're using applications for video production or acquiring coding skills needed to work in cybersecurity. Even students looking to purse a future in care-giving or teaching are finding STEM know-how is helpful.