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Students learn about needed education paths for career possibilities

Dec 01, 2017 08:00AM ● Published by Julie Slama

Shaun Wyllie speaks to Albion sixth-graders about his career as a manufacturing machinist during the school’s Career Day. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

Gallery: Students [1 Image] Click any image to expand.

Albion sixth-grader Lola Esla may want to be a pilot or a choreographer, but she’s also thinking about science.

And that’s OK, according to Canyons School District’s Work-Based Learning Facilitator Eileen Kasteler, who lined up several speakers during Albion Middle School’s Career Day for sixth-grade students.

“We want to give students a glimpse into what the possibilities are,” she said. “There’s no limit. Knowledge is power. The more informed students are about careers, the better decision they can make about their future.”

Speakers talked about careers as a space control analyst, electrician and occupational therapist, among others.

Lola’s favorite was learning from Brian Wittke, who is a Delta Airlines 737 pilot. He outlined the education — a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and a lot of math, science and legal classes to a master’s degree — and some responsibilities of his position, which include needing to ensure the safety of the flight with preflight system checks, fuel and weather planning and the exterior inspection of the aircraft.

“I’ve known I’ve wanted to be a pilot since I was a little kid,” Wittke said, adding his brother also is a pilot. “I love to fly and travel. To be a pilot, you need a strong work ethic and need to be punctual.”

Most pilots begin learning to fly on a Cessna 152. He then became a certified flight instructor, a regional airline pilot and corporate jet pilot before flying for a major airline. Others, he said, may learn their skills through the military or being an air ambulance pilot.

“Each aircraft takes about three to four weeks to learn the instrument,” he told students.

He also answered questions about flying about 1,000 feet apart from other flights and bird strikes.

“I like my job, and when my son brought a request for parents to speak, I thought it would be good to let them know it’s a job that they can learn with proper education and training,” he said.

Sixth-grader Leila Fauver, who would like to be a microbiologist, said she picked up the need for college and more education from the speakers, especially in math and science.

“In middle school, we’re starting to think more about what we’d like to do, so this is giving us some options on the path we’ll take,” she said.

Leila also said several presenters had PowerPoint presentations and videos to share with students that gave them a “better vision of the careers.”

Speaker and manufacturing machinist Shaun Wyllie showed videos of a fiber laser cutter making cuts into a quarter-inch piece of steel for a car door.

“Nowadays, with lasers, we’re able to make a cleaner, more precise cut,” he said. “It’s all programmed on a computer. We could program it and walk away. The machine will work on its own as it’s basically a robot. It used to take hours to cut one out and now it takes two minutes. It’s a high-tech, clean job — gone are the days of working in a dirty factory.”

However, Wyllie did point out that the need for education is great.

“It takes a lot more science and math, especially when making something round like a cylinder. Many take two CNC control classes as well as shop and engineering,” he said.

Speaker Josh Clark asked students to sketch a floor plan of their home — because that is in part what he does as a homebuilder.

“Think of your favorite room in the house,” he said. “Where do you spend the holidays? Where do you spend the most time — and why? We look at how you enjoy the space, how you use your homes and how best to create memories there. It’s from when you walk in, the feel, how light the ceilings are, to where you like to be.”

Through his career — starting when he built a gazebo in his backyard growing up — he has learned through framing and construction management, how both experience and education is needed.

“A lot of math is needed to build a house as well as know how to finance it,” he said.

Kasteler said that Canyons School District has different emphases for students’ levels. At elementary schools, like Brookwood — who hosted a Career Day on Nov.10 where parents came to speak to classes about what they do — it’s more of an introductory level.

“We want students to know what is out there and know there are more careers than what their parents do,” she said. “Middle school is more of an exploratory time and high school gives them a chance to try out some of their interests in careers and even job shadow.”

Alta High hosted a Career Exploration Day Nov. 16, which featured 65 speakers from a variety of careers — medical, art, military, law, culinary, engineering, said Holly Richards, Canyons’ Work-Based Learning lead. Students attended two sessions during the two-hour block.

“We wanted students to learn the pros and cons of the jobs and learn a little about fields they never thought of and now can interact with people in the careers,” she said.  

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