BUCKHANNON – As the world of technology evolves with each passing day, one Fred W. Eberle Technical Center instructor prepares his students for the upcoming challenges and opportunities of the Information Technology and Robotics industries.
Chad McKisic is the program instructor for both Information Technology and Robotics programs at Fred Eberle Technical Center. His passion for technology began with his first computer at just 10 years old. As an alum of this program, he returned home to Fred Eberle after working a decade in the industry with a mindset of educating future technicians.
“I took this class as an adult and it just really clicked,” McKisic said. “It seemed like the thing I should be doing. I love the culture of the school and got a lot out of the program.”
The FETC Information Technology program strives to build computer technicians with an abundance of experience in computer repair, troubleshooting, internet communications, website design, tech support and a variety of other services related to today’s technology needs. The morning class at FETC allows McKisic and his students to read through and discuss chapters with interactive features that lead to hands-on reviews where recently-learned content turns into real-life skills building opportunities.
McKisic explained that the Information Technology program is broken down into five segments based on industry capabilities: mobile technology, networking (wired/wireless capabilities), hardware, network troubleshooting, and cloud computing and virtualization. Proficient knowledge and skills within these five segments are put to the test for interested students through the CompTIA A+ Certification that is oftentimes recommended or required by employers in the Information Technology industry.
“I really loved I.T., it’s such a wide open [industry],” McKisic said. “In the same day, I would climb a tower to like 200 feet and later that day I’d be putting pipe in a ditch to run fiber.”
On the other hand, the Robotics program at FETC showcases a student’s digital literacy, physics and S.T.E.M. (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) concepts through hands-on activities and special events that follow real-world engineering principles.
Students of McKisic’s afternoon robotics program can put their engineering and technology skills to the test through weekly events hosted in the classroom, such as robo-soccer and freeze tag.
McKisic enjoys preparing students for both the present day and future needs of the industry.
“I like to train students for a career that I can’t think of,” McKisic said. “I don’t know what they’ll be doing [in the future]. I can’t imagine what the world will look like when they’re my age and what sorts of things they’ll be working with – especially in the I.T. and robotics fields.”
While in the classroom, McKisic explained that there are three main skills that are achievable upon completion of this program: personal, workplace and technical skills.
“I like to give [my students] personal skills: I.T. guys are one-to-one, face-to-face with people, so [helping students] understand that you’re going to talk to people while having a set-script or goal in mind of finding out what their problem is and the best way to fix it for them,” he said. “Workplace skills are how to communicate your ideas to other people and get stuff done. Technical skills are the bread and butter of how I.T. works.”
McKisic confessed that information technology and robotics industries are not easy. Education to prepare for such industries should be taken seriously like a real job.
“There is an extreme amount of information to know,” McKisic said. “My best students are ones who are really motivated by using their own computer or even playing video games on their computer, because those things break all the time. They learn so much from wanting to play a game and all of the different things that go into the requirements of that game.”
Students who succeed in the program then have the opportunity to continue their education through a post-secondary institution or expand their skillset in the workforce.
“The most important thing is the goal of any school – no matter how much you get – is a job,
McKisic said. “With the trades, [schooling] links directly to a job. Every day you come in, act like you’re at a job. The contacts that all of the instructors have could be exactly what you need to get not just a job but a living and a career, which is hard to find nowadays.”
Interested high school and adult students are encouraged to contact the FETC main office at 304-472-1259 to receive more information about available programs, tuition rates and financial aid for the Information Technology program. Learn more about the Information Technology program on the FETC website.
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The Fred Eberle Technical Center campus is located at 208 Morton Avenue in Buckhannon.