Thursday, November 24 2022

Corey Dornon of the West Virginia Construction Craft Laborers spoke with students Friday at the Wood County Technical Center about their apprenticeship program. (Photo by Douglas Huxley)

PARKERSBURG — A Career and Technical Training (CTE) VR Exploration Camp event was held at Wood County Technical Center, ending Friday.

The Mid-Ohio Valley Workforce Development Board and Wood County Schools have partnered to host the week-long event.

Students were able to use virtual reality to participate in practical work such as welding, electricity, fire safety, etc. There were 11 different trades represented at the event with nine presentations. These included electricians, labourers, millwrights, plumbers, pipefitters, sheet metal workers and ironworkers.

“It was an opportunity for (students), if they ever wanted to be A, B, C or D, on the one hand, to be able to pursue that because they have the ability to do that,” said William Monterosso, executive director of the Mid-Ohio Valley Workforce Development Board. “Or, if they have no idea what they want to do, it gives them the opportunity to say, ‘Wait a minute. I think I can do it and I never realized it even existed!”

They learned about shop safety, how to use and operate different tools from various trades, and how their daily school learning translates into real-world jobs.

Regional Executive Chef Ryan Grasley and Certified Dietitian Kim Ambrose of The Changed Plate spoke with students Friday at the Wood County Technical Center about cooking and healthy meal choices. (Photo by Douglas Huxley)

“You don’t realize that if you’re an electrician, they use trigonometry every day”, Monterosso said. “So now the math is getting real.”

This is the first time the event has taken place and is the only one of its kind in the United States. The virtual platform and the digital software are also new. The equipment cost around $5,000 and all software was designed specifically for professional learning.

“From aviation to cooking, and everything in between.” Monterosso said. “So that gives a lot of hope to these kids.”

Monterosso said they plan to incorporate this into schools on a daily basis to keep students engaged and allow them to see how their math and science studies can pass on the job market. This will allow students to enter the job market with skills already in place.

“So not only do we have a skilled workforce that maintains existing businesses, but we can say, ‘Hey, in our little part of the world, we have a skilled workforce to attract new businesses. ‘”

Kyle Smith completes a virtual reality fire safety program during the Friday Career Exploration Program at Wood County Technical Center. (Photo by Douglas Huxley)

The event ended Friday with a catered lunch from The Changed Plate and a chance for parents to walk around and check out the things the students have been up to all week.

Douglass Huxley can be contacted at [email protected]

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