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Computer Networking and
Robotic Technologies Offered
by Gary Knight

Updated on Wednesday*:

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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 presentations.

“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 manufacturing.

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 achievements.

All IT work around the building will be recorded, work records will be maintained, and end-of-year profits and losses will be calculated.

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.” 

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