While Fred Eberle Technical Center in Buckhannon offers a number of programs that focus on traditional careers, it is also on the leading edge of information technology, giving students hands-on experience in computer repair, drones and robotics — jobs that will be in high demand over the coming years.
Chad McKisic is the FETC instructor for Information Technology. He said the courses in computer repair, robotics and drones are open to both high school students as well as adults.
“In computer repair, I teach three different certifications,” McKisic said. “They are industry-recognized and will get the student an entry-level job in areas such as an IT help desk or in IT installation.”
Modern businesses use information technology in increasingly complex ways, including in payment processing systems and cloud computing. That means more manpower is always in demand to establish and service those networks.
McKisic said the robotics and drones course helps prepare students to meet the federal requirements to operate in a commercial setting.
“The class in robotics and drones gets the learner ready for the FAA Part 107 commercial drone pilot license,” McKisic said. “Robotics also helps teach concepts in computer science, physics and mechanics.”
McKisic said his classes incorporate project-based learning and are very hands-on. To prepare students for the business world, classrooms are set up under the simulated workplace model.
“Our classroom is run like a business, and each student has responsibilities to keep the workplace running,” he said. That includes doing the actual computer repair at the center itself.
“All of our computer repair students are responsible for the school,” he said.
Buckhannon-Upshur High School senior Frankie Ellis is enrolled in the robotics program. He opted to take the course because he wanted to learn about an occupation that will be essential in the future.
“The future is moving toward robots and artificial intelligence,” Ellis said. “I enjoy learning about repairing and troubleshooting systems. I can repair components in computers and I can fix iPhone screens.”
Ellis plans to attend Fairmont State College, and he feels what he learned at Fred Eberle Technical Center will be useful in college, later in his vocation and in everyday life.
“The certifications will definitely help me get a job in the future,” Ellis said, “and they will help me when getting into college, because I can use them on my resume. These skills will be something I can use in my day-to-day life as well.”
Ellis encourages students in Barbour, Lewis and Upshur counties to consider taking classes and learning trade skills at FETC.
“Go for it,” he said. “This is a free form of advanced learning. Being part of a simulated workplace has taught me how to work together with others and how to communicate effectively with others – the simulated workplace is an experience that helps you learn about working at a real job.”
Ellis said he just secured employment with Raven Rock Networks and his time at FETC helped him get the job.
“Going to the FETC and putting that on my resume was instrumental in securing my work there,” he said.