Students who are interested in pursuing a career in engineering, electronics or the technical trades are getting a head start on their post-secondary education or potential occupation through a pair of courses offered at Glenwood Community High School.
The courses, Principles of Technology I and II, provide students with hands-on instruction in a variety of technical areas. In the first-year course, instruction is offered in mechanical, fluid, electrical and thermal systems. Seven topics are the focus of the second-year course - hydraulics, pneumatics, fiber optics and sensors, CNC mill, robotics programming, digital electronics and lasers.
“If somebody's going to be an engineer, electrician, or get into heating and plumbing, they can get a lot of hands-on experience with these classes,” instructor Stan Winquist said. "If you want to get into an apprentice program, go to a two-year school or four-year school, you’ve got lots of experience already that’s going to help you.
“I think it gives Glenwood students a big advantage to sell themselves with high tech skills when looking for a job or applying for scholarships in technical areas of study in college.”
Winquist has overseen Glenwood’s technology program for more than two decades, utilizing a variety of public and private grants to equip his classroom. The program was started in 1989 by Leonard Griffith. Winquist teaches two Technology II classes, with 14 students in each class. About 40 students are taking Technology I this year.
Nick Stewart is one of Winquist’s Technology II students who's considering a career in electrical engineering.
“I’ve got more out of this class than I thought I was going to,” Stewart said. “I like working with technology and learning about the different stuff that makes things function.”
Mitch Bowden is undecided about his career path, but calls the class “really fun.”
“This class will help me out with basically anything I decide to do - the pneumatics, hydraulics, the robotics and all the electrical stuff we learned last year and this year."
Winquist said he’s heard from many former students over the years who have benefited from the knowledge they gained in the two courses.
“I’ve had a lot of kids come back who are in the military and say they went through things like electrical training and it was a piece of cake because of what they learned here,” Winquist said.
One of those former students is Mason Cambridge, a 2008 GCHS graduate and an electronics technician with the U.S. Coast Guard stationed in the North Atlantic.
“In order to become an electronics technician I had to complete my 28 weeks of technical training. Having Principles of Technology I and II under my belt gave me a huge advantage over my classmates. Some of them had four years of college and still weren’t as prepared as me,” Cambridge said via an e-mail interview. “The first couple of weeks were basic classes that taught the principles of AC and DC current, and then classes got progressively harder as we moved through our analog and digital courses. It surprised me as to how much they were teaching was actually just a refresher for me.”
Winquist said seniors who have completed the courses are given a printout before graduation listing the technical skills they’ve mastered.
“I always try to share information about various colleges that offer programs of study in these areas, jobs that use these skills, and what they could earn,” Winquist said. “I am a little biased, but I think it makes students from Glenwood High School that have completed this program more marketable as a potential employee.
“Of course, the student still needs to prove to a potential employer they have an old-fashioned Midwestern work ethic. But that is something they must provide.”