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Workforce demand is big push behind new tech programs in Lauderdale County Schools

The Industrial Systems Program started in fall 2019. The cyber security program will be added in fall 2020.

Posted: Jan 24, 2020 3:17 PM
Updated: Jan 24, 2020 5:50 PM

The demand for a diverse and skilled workforce is the drive behind two new technical programs in Lauderdale County Schools.

At Allen Thornton Career Tech Center, the Industrial Systems Program is taking off with about 40 students enrolled in it. They even have a large lab at the career tech center where instructors come in and teach the students hands-on experience in fixing things like assembly line machines.

On Friday, WAAY 31 went to the lab to check out the program. A student, Madison Carter, was in the middle of her lesson for the day, checking the hydraulic pressure in a motor, when we caught up with her.

"I'm hooking up my gauges to my motor so we can figure out the flow," said Carter. "I've learned a lot with measuring and aligning the motors."

Carter's peer in the program, Jackson Ferguson, said he's learned a lot, too. Ferguson is a sophomore in the program.

"I didn't have a clue about any of this stuff and I've learned a lot about it just in a few months and I really like doing it," said Ferguson.

Lauderdale County Schools partnered with Northwest Shoals Community College to give students free training and college credit. The students in the Industrial Systems Program are also dual enrolled in Northwest Shoals Community College.

"I want to go into a nuclear power plant as an operator, I think, so far. I was wanting to go to Polaris with this kind of work, but I don't know," said Carter.

Her mind isn't 100% made up on an exact job in the industry yet, but Carter said the program has helped her navigate that path.

Allen Thornton Career Tech Center Principal, Gary Williams, said the push for this program comes from all of the growing industry with Polaris, Toyota-Mazda and spin-off companies.

"They're going to be manufacturing rockets, automotive plants, that type of thing. They are going to be prepared for those types of jobs," said Williams.

The Industrial Systems Program is taking off and the addition of a cyber security program is next.

"The FBI is bringing 4,000 jobs to our region and many of those are going to be cyber security related," said Williams.

The cyber security program will be available for students next fall. The school system is able to fund these programs through a $140,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission.

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