Knightdale High promotes STEM careers

CorrespondentDecember 27, 2011 

— "Do you want to be standing outside a store at midnight buying the next new video game, or staying at home watching people buy your video game?"

That question was posed last week by a recruiter to ninth through 12th graders at Knightdale High School's first STEM Expo. The expo brought businesses with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math opportunities into the school, and allowed students in various STEM classes to showcase their projects.

Michael Cromartie is the engineering branch recruiter for Wake Technical Community College. He told students that simulated game development, nursing and health care are currently the biggest programs at the institution.

His displays included a robotic arm and an electrical circuit heat sensor (think thermostat without the fancy box and dials) built by Wake Tech students.

"All devices start in the lab. If you can build a better device, you can start to build a better company," Cromartie said.

KHS seniors Nick Chapman and Khalid Powell showed off the solar-energy project they are completing in the high school's green engineering and sustainable energy course.

The pair demonstrated solar panels which can transmit 60 watts an hour. They showed how the system uses a DC connector and control box, and explained that the system will eventually be connected to a breaker, to a wall and "the grid."

Students in the class will be eligible for certification as electronic technicians or certified energy practitioners after they complete the course. "You can make good money," Chapman said.

Bill Doyle, of Schneider Electric, told students about his company, which he called a "global leader in energy management."

The company, which has a presence in Knightdale but is based in Paris, France, does everything from acquiring solar companies, operating vehicle charging stations, to manufacturing fixtures which are compatible with energy-efficient light bulbs.

Schneider currently recruits up to 50 college students a year to be trained in sales, and provides opportunities for college interns. Doyle said he hopes the company will soon have positions for high school interns, too.

Representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency, state Department of Transportation and Rex Hospital were also on hand. Chiropractors Drs. Jason and Lisa Kucma answered students' questions about their medical specialty.

Senior Michelle Torres came to the expo from her career management course to find out about options for training as an RN. She talked to representatives from Rex and Miller-Motte Technical College.

The expo was convenient, because her time is limited after school, she said.

Fellow student Nancy Molina, a sophomore, is taking the same course, and she was looking into information about becoming an orthodontist.

KHS career development coordinator Sharon Lawrence, who organized the STEM expo, said the event's purpose was to make students aware of job opportunities revolving around science, technology, engineering and math.

"It looks like it is going very well," she said.

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