John McCormick in reference to his computer
networking technology and robotics programs.
Students receive qualifications enabling them to go
into technology support and management positions, as well as college for
further certifications, including networking, network administration,
systems architecture, data management, and automated manufacturing.
McCormick’s students follow a project-based
curriculum, and study and train in system maintenance and repair and
robotics (new this year). They also serve as IT (Internet Technology)
trouble shooters, who maintain and repair systems at the career center.
McCormick said that all of them will graduate with
at least 500 hours of internship: “Students have the opportunity to
touch technology and be out there working with things they will be
working with in the real world.
“They trace problems to their origins and solve
them exactly the way it was when I worked in industry. I don’t think
there is any better training students can have than laying hands on
stuff they are going to work with. These students are going to leave
here knowing how technology works.”
McCormick’s classes have earned three gold and one
bronze medal at Skills USA competitions over last two years: “That is
huge. We compete against the best in state.”
The program has grown from “four or five” to 31
students (21 computer networking technology and 10 robotics) over the
past couple of years: “One of the great things is, we have students who
not only complete one year here, but like to come back for a second and
some even come back for a third.
“We have been very fortunate. The state has been
very generous. Mr. Sterns has helped us a lot. We have a lot of brand
new computers, including state-of-the-art touch screen, all-in-one
desktop computers, 10-point touch screen computers for graphic
manipulation, a 3-D printer, a pro-level journalist’s video camera, and
video glasses. Students make up their own designs and print on 3-D.”
Students have built their own video editing
computer and are working on designing a multi-media system for the
school. They will also utilize both computer and robotic technology,
creating documentary films, and creating a movie studio for event
“I am absolutely blessed to have had the
opportunity to come here. This is such an exciting time to be in
education,” said McCormick. “Robotics is a fantastic program. We use VEX
robots (produced by Intellitech).
“The premise behind the program is that it creates
problem solvers. It is a lot more than just building a robot. It allows
students to discover electronics, radio signals, higher order math, such
as calculus, torque ratios for wheels turning or arms lifting, and
co-efficiency in a very practical and understandable way. It is very
much applied math and grabs the students’ interest.”
Career center director Bryan Sterns said he
believes that the robotics program is excellent and provides a superb
background for automated manufacturing practice and preparation.
“It’s a growing program within the State of West Virginia. We’re
really excited to have it at CGCC,” McCormick said.
He added that West Virginia University-Parkersburg is considering a partnership with
the career center toward awarding associate degrees in automated
McCormick said that next year his program will be
set in a simulated work place, based upon a state Dept. of Education
initiative where students will clock in, work will be assessed the same
as by a boss in industry, and students will complete spreadsheets of
All IT work around the building will be recorded,
work records will be maintained, and end-of-year profits and losses will
McCormick said that the state department asked
businesses what they require of the school system and what they want in
workers. Business representatives said they want people who come to work
on time, can pass a drug test, and be able to do a job, and understand
what the work place is.
“That is where the initiative comes from. We are
going to treat the students as though they are employees and this is a
business/workplace. It is a very exciting time; we have two labs doing
it here,” said McCormick.
Students will wear video glasses (as shown in this
week’s Calhoun Comments) purchased with technology money, to record
their work, thereby putting together evidence of what they have done.
The videos will become part of their portfolios. Students will post
their video portfolios on line, where prospective employers may view
their skills and capabilities.
Every student in the career center will have an
electronic portfolio, as per state requirements.
“This is education for the 21st Century,” McCormick
said. “We want students to leave with 21st Century skills, to be great
communicators, innovators, to be creators, and critical thinkers.”