What Makes A Great STEM Program?

What Makes A Great STEM Program?

What Makes A Great STEM Program? 225 300 Peter van Gorder

For our June blog, we want to introduce you to one of the trainers who are in the process of enrolling his school in our Switch Vehicles program. But before we introduce you to Glenn Dethy, we want to let you know about our upcoming workshop in June:

Switch Vehicles Train-The-Trainer Workshops Now Available

There is a train-the-trainer workshop taking place in Rockford, Illinois, June 21-25, 2021. If you or someone you know who teaches vocational, STEM, or automotive classes and is happy to travel to Illinois, please share the registration link with them. Space is limited, so act fast! https://theswitchlab.com/workshops/ 

Glenn Dethy is an instructor at the Prosser Career Education Center in Indiana, located close to Kentucky. He says they’re located on the state border and separated by a river. They call it “Kentuckiana”.

Glenn holds two jobs: The first is serving as the Adult Education Program Coordinator, a part-time job. The second is his full-time job as an Instructor of Automotive Technology. Prosser Career Education Center in Indiana is located in District 10, and we are the only facility in District 10. About 22 high schools feed into this program. We have about 1300 kids enrolled, and they go for 2 hours and 40 minutes for a half day. Then, they go back to their regular HS for the rest of the day. The instructors at Prosser Career Education Center in Indiana are super excited about EVs/Electric Vehicles and the ability to get their hands on them.

“We had a referendum in our County 2018 to give a tax increase to remodel the career center, for about $26M for a 40K square foot facility that focuses only on diesel, auto tech, and auto body training. The entire school got a facelift, but we got a brand new building.”, stated Mr. Dethy.

“We have everything from private pilot’s license training in this school to building houses in a subdivision, to a robotics lab for manufacturing, to automotive technical training. The heavy equipment digs the basement of the houses, and we have a construction department. That department builds the house, an electrical department wires the house, and HVAC that puts heating/air conditioning in the house, etc.”, Glenn explained. Do they have plumbing and masonry yet? “Not yet, but we’re adding it plus drafting, welding, criminal justice, fire and rescue, nursing, x-ray tech, and dental hygienist program, too.” What a fantastic vocational training facility! Mr. Dethy claims that his students in auto tech graduate with 22 dual college credits should give them an advantage when seeking a job.

When asked how Prosser Career Education Center in Indiana in District 10 got its start, Glenn explained: “There’s a gentleman, Alan Taylor, who just retired who is the mastermind behind this school and he built it what it is. He drove the program, and we have a new director, a female Principle. This new director is taking it even further!”

When asked if more women are entering these vocational training programs, Glenn stated that he has a female tech in his program, and she just completed the electrical program with Ford. The professionalism she brought to the shop was excellent, and the shop’s techs are more professional because of her presence. He has more females in his program, and he’s thrilled to have them! In Indiana, they have a thing called “next level steps” showing how to progress from high school to college, and they’re putting technical training into place with certificates that equal an AA degree. 

How did Glenn Dethy get his start at the Prosser Career Education Center in Indiana in District 10? Glenn explained that he went to this center back in 1987 as a student. After graduation, he went to work at a Ford garage. Twenty-two years later, he got a job at the school, and he’s now teaching in the same classroom he was a student in. Isn’t that cool? 

How did Glenn find Switch Vehicles? He found an online magazine for technicians and shop owners mentioning Switch Vehicles in New Hampshire, and they’re using these EVs in their program. That’s where Glenn saw us. Glenn was looking for hybrids and EVs for his students to work on. That’s the future! He’s been wanting to do a class for a while. It came into his inbox, and he sent Peter Oliver, the founder of Switch Vehicles, a message. Now, Peter’s writing a full proposal so Glenn can present it to the school for approval. There’s a lot of conversation that has to go on before the school commits. It could help the diesel students, auto body shop students, and automotive techs. The Switch Vehicles are so versatile, and it could be a Capstone project for the top students at the end of their senior year. So many options and opportunities.

Switch Vehicles brings a level of joy and excitement back to the classroom. Plus, it brings in stuff that was hard for elective classes to get. The school year during COVID had a ramp-up of students signing up to attend in-person courses after the shutdowns were over. The students saw during COVID what jobs were disappearing and which ones were thriving, so they signed en masse to acquire job skills that will help them post-COVID that are essential.

When asked, “What makes a great STEM program?”, Dethy replied, “There’s a lot!” He continues, “We have a program called PRIDE: Persistence, Resourcefulness, Integrity, Dependability, Efficiency. We need these things to do well in our careers. One of their banners reads: “I’m a PRIDE student of the month.” The Governor’s Work Ethic Certificate is awarded to students who are among the top performers in the PRIDE program. It helps students see what they’re supposed to do as employees who will grow and thrive.”

What advice does Glenn have for the parents? “Trade schools were looked down upon by parents for a long time. The pendulum is swinging back around now because the trades are in dire need of employees and are considered essential. Why can’t kids become doctors but also get trade school classes too? If they intend to become a doctor, they can go to a trade school and start medical training as a sterilization specialist or a nurse. It doesn’t have to be either. The students get hands-on training that university students do not. Any kid who wants to be a doctor who gets hands-on experience will supersede the university students who don’t.”

What is essential to a great STEM program? Glenn said that the excitement from the teachers about the topics they’re teaching is what’s vital. When the teachers are enthusiastic about the science, technology, engineering, math, and cutting-edge technology at your fingertips, that’s when students benefit the most.

Mr. Dethy stated that the Prosser Career Education Center in Indiana in District 10 would get funding for the Switch Vehicles acquisition to begin the program in the Fall of 2021, hopefully. The more programs you touch, then it’s easier to get funding. Glenn is hopeful that the volume of 50 to 100 kids enrolled in the diesel, auto body, and auto tech programs will garner that funding.

There are other middle-school, high-school, and college-level programs that are also purchasing EV assembly kits. Here’s a recent article sharing what’s going on at the ConVal Regional High School in Peterborough, New Hampshire

The future of automotive technical education looks bright, and Switch Vehicles Inc. is here to support its growth. At Switch Vehicles, we manufacture a fun, sporty, and safe Electric Vehicle created as a “build-it-yourself” kit for education. Our all-inclusive program is called The Switch Lab™ – which challenges students to build a full-size, road-worthy electric vehicle as a classroom project. Used in high schools, colleges, and junior high schools across the US, the program delivers high-quality project-based learning with real-world experience and impact. Founded in 2013, we practice what we teach with EV Kits manufactured in our Sebastopol, CA, shop.

Our reusable EV Kit is an ideal project that teaches students how to work with their hands, solve problems, learn about systems, and gain experience in cutting-edge automotive technology. To learn more about how Switch Vehicles can benefit your school, contact us today.