BUCKHANNON — As the world of technology evolves with each passing day, a Fred W. Eberle Tech Center instructor is preparing his students for the challenges and opportunities ahead in the information technology and robotics industries.
Chad McKisic is the program instructor for the Information Technology and Robotics programs at Fred Eberle Technical Center. His passion for technology started with his first computer at just 10 years old. As an alumnus of this program, he returned to Fred Eberle after working a decade in the industry with a mindset to educate future technicians.
“I took this course as an adult and it really clicked,” McKisic said. “It seemed like the thing I should do. I love the school culture and got a lot out of the program.
The FETC Information Technology program strives to train computer technicians with extensive experience in computer repair, troubleshooting, Internet communications, web design, technical support, and a variety of other services related to today’s technological needs. The morning class at FETC allows McKisic and his students to read and discuss chapters with interactive features that lead to practice exams where newly learned content turns into real-world skill development opportunities.
McKisic explained that the information technology program is divided into five segments based on industry capabilities: mobile technology, network (wired/wireless capabilities), hardware, network troubleshooting, and cloud computing and virtualization. The knowledge and skills of these five segments are put to the test for interested students through the CompTIA A+ certification, often recommended or required by employers in the information technology sector.
“I really loved IT, it’s so open [industry]said McKisic. “The same day I would climb a tower about 200 feet and later that day I would put a pipe in a ditch to run the fiber through.”
On the other hand, FETC’s robotics program introduces a student’s digital literacy, physics, and STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) concepts through hands-on activities and special events that follow the principles real world engineering.
Students in McKisic’s afternoon robotics program can put their engineering and technology skills to the test with weekly in-class events such as robo-soccer and freeze tag.
McKisic likes to prepare students for current and future industry needs.
“I like training students for a career that I can’t think of,” McKisic said. “I don’t know what they’ll do [in the future]. I can’t imagine what the world will be like when they’re my age and what kind of things they’ll be working with, especially in computing and robotics.
While in class, McKisic explained that there are three main skills that are attainable upon completion of this program: personal, professional and technical skills.
“I like to give [my students] personal skills: IT people are one-on-one, face-to-face with people, so [helping students] understand that you are going to talk to people while having a storyline or a goal in mind to find out what their problem is and the best way to solve it for them,” he said. “Workplace skills are about communicating your ideas to other people and getting things done. Technical skills are the bread and butter of how IT works.
McKisic confessed that the IT and robotics industries are not easy. Education to prepare for such industries should be taken seriously as real work.
“There’s an extreme amount of information to know,” McKisic said. “My best students are the ones who are really motivated to use their own computer or even play video games on their computer because those things break all the time. They learn so much by wanting to play a game and all the different things who come within the requirements of this game.”
Students who successfully complete the program then have the option of continuing their studies at a post-secondary institution or expanding their skills in the job market.
“The most important thing is that the goal of any school – no matter how much you earn – is a job,
McKisic said. “With the trades, [schooling] links directly to a task. Every day you walk in, act like you’re at work. The contacts that all instructors have could be exactly what you need to get not only a job, but also a life and a career, which is hard to come by these days.
Interested high school and mature students are encouraged to contact the FETC main office at 304-472-1259 to receive more information about programs availabletuition 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.