The Courier, Ballarat VIC | 05 Nov 2016
Pilot P-Tech program sprouts success for Ballarat students.
Fiona Henderson discovers an innovative pilot program which is giving Federation College P-Tech students the chance to study technology both in the classroom and from those who use it very well.
DAYMION Guru recently spent his school day studying a Nissan GTR racing car – and its state-of-the-art sensors – up close.
But that’s not an unusual day in the classroom for the 16-year-old, who can duplicate pretty much anything on a 3D printer and who wants to be an electrical engineer. Yet Daymion once didn’t really like school.
Grace Duley, 15, loved studying the behind-the-scenes technology that powers Sovereign Hill’s popular Sound and Light Show.
She dreams of one day being a carpenter or a builder – yet only a short while ago had a school attendance record hovering around 40 per cent.
Andrew Block, 15, wants to become a photographer or work in visual media. But he once felt like he could never stand up and talk confidently.
And Bridie Biggs, 16, is getting closer to her lifelong plan of following in her father’s and grandfather’s footsteps and becoming a motorbike mechanic. So what has changed the educational lives of these four students and – perhaps even more importantly – their future ambitions?
Federation College’s innovative P-Tech Program partners with IBM to provide students with industry visits while also studying a VCAL based curriculum around the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects.
Visits to the Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute, Bartlett Blinds, Albins Performance Transmissions and Deakin University’s CADET program have rounded out the workplace visits.
IBM corporate citizenship and corporate affairs manager Jade Moffat said the P-Tech model was developed in Brooklyn, New York, in 2011 and was quickly picked up by 60 sites across the United States.
In Australia, the federal government has committed to 14 P-Tech schools, with pilot programs starting this year in Ballarat and Geelong. While the students have mainly done workplace visits this year, next year they will also receive an IBM mentor and work on specific IT projects.
“We have committed to a lot of hands-on involvement,” Ms Moffat said.
“This year students have come in on tours but next year they will work on real life projects at IBM and have weekly contact with their mentor.” IBM also funds a P-Tech Program industry liaison officer who organises the workplace visits, while two fulltime classroom teachers supervise the students at Federation College in Grant Street. But what do the students think of such a unique program?
“It’s opened my eyes a lot. It’s given us a lot of opportunities to see what it’s like in the workplace,” Grace said.
“It was cool seeing how much technology has changed.” Bridie said she enjoyed seeing how machines were helping businesses to do things quicker and more efficiently.