‘Tech Wars’ brings high school students together with industry professionals
IDAHO FALLS – Students at Technical Careers High School in Idaho Falls put on their game faces this past Friday as the school held its annual “Tech Wars” competition.
“Tech Wars” challenges students to complete career-specific tasks. For example, construction students built two adjoining walls, one including a window, while auto body students prepped fenders for painting.
Their work was observed and judged by professionals working in the industries and prizes were awarded.
On top of the competitive aspect, “Tech Wars” gives students a chance to network with potential employers, learn about scholarships and create possible future job opportunities. Think of “Tech Wars” as a field day focused on technical career events.
“(‘Tech Wars’) is our equivalent to ‘March Madness,’” TCHS principal Lyndon Oswald told EastIdahoNews.com. “It’s a precursor because we have three levels our students can go to. We have ‘Tech Wars,’ where we compete locally. Our winners will go to Boise and compete at a state level. Then the state winners will go to Louisville, Kentucky, and compete at the national level.”
The state-wide and national rounds of competition were canceled this year due to COVID-19, but TCHS still held a local competition to get their students in front of industry eyeballs.
The students were excited to compete and reap benefits that could boost their future prospects.
“A competition like this sets us up for time limits,” said welding student Lucas Emery. “It allows us to use all of our skills that we’ve learned and gets us ready for time-sensitive projects or situations where something needs to be made that you don’t have plans for, so you have to come up with your own plans.”
“I think (‘Tech Wars’) can prepare us by giving us an amount of time to work with, to learn how to handle that pressure,” added construction student Cody Wood. “And to learn to do an efficient, good job.”
“Tech Wars” is just one piece in the educational puzzle Technical Careers High School helps its students assemble. TCHS is a comprehensive high school as well as a technical school, meaning its students get all the benefits of a regular high school along with career-specific, hands-on training in numerous fields.
“I think there are three schools in the state of Idaho that are comprehensive and career technical schools, so that makes us very unique,” Oswald said. “I have full-time 100 students that come every day and learn math, English, science but they’re all in pathways. We have some amazing pathways at our school. Medically, we have the emergency medical technician program. Then we’ve got a construction program, as well as a cabinet-making pathway. I’ve got an automotive technician pathway, an auto body collision repair pathway, and a welding pathway that’s always full.”
Other career pathways TCHS offers include certified nursing assistants, construction and animal sciences. The goal of the school is to get kids the hands-on training and experience they need to jump directly into a good career after graduation.
“Our motto here is ‘Learning by doing,’” said Oswald. “Sometimes, you can read a book but once you’ve actually experienced it and … actually done it — We have a learning by doing model and also everything we teach, even our math classes, is all built around workplace readiness. We teach kids how they should talk around the public, how they should act around the public, being to work on time, putting away their cell phones when they’re working. We produce really hirable students.”
The students at TCHS appreciate the skills and abilities they learn from attending the school and even receive some surprising benefits.
“I knew basic first aid because I was a Boy Scout and I thought ‘I’m trained in first aid, I know all their things, I can do anything,’” said E.M.T. student Isaac Price. “Then a week into the E.M.T. class, I realized I know absolutely nothing. I am a complete novice at this. So I think it was really cool to see that switch from being super confident to ‘I know nothing’ to now, I know a whole lot more and I’m a lot more humble about it.”
Students who are interested in taking classes at Technical Careers High School are encouraged to contact Principal Oswald at the school to set up an interview. More information can be found on the TCHS website or the school’s Facebook page.