Process Technology at West

Process+Technology+at+West

Edmund Luciano

Only about 45 percent of high school students will attend college right after High School nationwide, and this rate is even lower here in Alaska.

Alaska has bountiful well paying jobs in mining and oil that will be around for years to come. Many of these jobs just require technical skills and training or at most a two-year degree. So the question remains, how will we get more Alaska’s into the jobs as many of these mining and oil companies hire workers from the Lower 48.

There is a simple answer more career training classes in high schools in the state like our Processing Tech class here at West that teaches students to understand and monitor processes that occur in mining and oil.

There has been some construction going on around West in the front were the Cove used to reside. Construction began in August.  The construction got a late start on this project because there was materials such as electronic equipment that has lived in the cove for years still inside. There were permits and plans were still being finalized.

When asked about why the building is still standing after so long the worker said, “We have had to take down many support columns inside the building and we also had to carefully remove sections of the roof that connected the two buildings.” The new building is going to be a two-floor career and technology lab.

The project was part of the April 2012 Bond package that allowed for $23.8 million for career and technical education improvements where the project at West got it origins. It is funded partly by a grant from BP. It is expected to be completed by the second semester of the 2015-2016 school year or by January 2016 if all goes as planned, “which it rarely does,” noted Bill a heavy equipment operator working on the new building. It should provide more educational opportunities in career fields.

There are similar programs in the state that provide these career centers, like the one in Kotzebue that teaches young students processing technology for future careers in oil and mining in the State.

It should allow West to expand the current processing technology program to include more students. There are no current plans to include more programs than what we currently have but the building will allow for growth for new career and technical programs. There are no plans for this building to take over classes taught at King Career Center.

Many staff at Romig and West are involved in this project along with the Administrations of both schools. Although Romig is playing a big part in it all, sadly there students won’t be able to take advantage of this new building until they are students at West. Many students and parents alike believe that it is an important new direction schools are taking in focusing more on career readiness rather than standard education.

With programs like this we are producing a students that are more career ready straight out of high school instead of one that is hard set on college, which isn’t for everyone as Sven Berglund puts it, “I want to see all my students excel in life and make a crap ton of money in the state and keep it here. There are a ton of jobs out there but our schools focus more on college. The fact is: College is not for everyone and not everyone will get a 4 year degree.” Berglund is one of the two Processing Technology teachers at West that will next year teach classes in the new building.