MSDE highlights AMP program
RIDGELY — Representatives of the Maryland State Department of Education and the Maryland Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation visited the Caroline Career and Technology Center on Friday, Sept. 14, to see firsthand the school’s new Advanced Manufacturing Professionals program in action.
The program, developed in a partnership between the Caroline County Board of Education, Caroline County Economic Development and local businesses, aims to prepare students for careers in the county’s growing manufacturing industr y.
Students learn from not only their CCTC instructor, Keith Hale, but also from local business representatives, teaching technical skills, like using woodworking machines and design software, as well as the
“soft skills,” like thinking creatively to solve problems and making presentations, employers need in new hires.
“The purpose is to train students to work at a much higher level than traditional technical education,” said Alan Stein, president of Tanglewood Conservatories in Denton. “They learn to think individually but work in teams, which (employers) would usually have to teach to kids right out of high school.
“We are accelerating their careers here,” Stein said.
The program enrolled its first cohort of students at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year. In that first year, the students researched, designed, built, marketed and sold two projects, a birdhouse and a clock.
Now in their third semester of classroom instruction, the 12 students are working on a cajón, a box-shaped drum on which the player sits; their final project this semester will be an electric guitar, built with donated pieces and help from Paul Reed Smith Guitars in Stevensville.
In the spring, their fourth and final semester in the program, the students will intern at various local businesses.
At the end, students can sit for the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council’s certified production technician exam, preparing them to go directly into the workforce or in pursuit of an advanced degree.
On Friday, the students presented the plans for the cajón project to the visitors, who then sat in on that day’s lesson on managing customer expectations to provide a quality product, led by Nicole Mihalos, executive director of Untangled Minds, and Stein.
Kyleigh Witter, a junior, explained her cajòn design, which was picked to be the one the class will now mass produce for sale, the funds from which will go toward the upcoming electric guitar project.
Witter said she chose a herringbone design for the cajòn’s sides, in differentcolored woods, with a laserengraved image of a sun on the drum’s front face, at the bottom, where the drummer does not strike to play it.
She worked with a woodworking company in Easton to solve the problem of maintaining the sides’ structural integrity while using the angled herringbone design.
Marquita Friday, program manager for career and technology education with the Maryland State Department of Education, asked the students why they chose the AMP program.
Witter said she had tried other career paths, including pre-medical and cosmetology, but did not like either. Her guidance counselor suggested she try the new AMP program.
“I’ve been here ever since,” she said.
Colton Muir, a junior, said he tried it because he was interested in trade work, particularly welding.
After interning at Tanglewood Conservatories over the summer, he hopes to work there after graduating.
Ryan Saunders, a senior, said he started in the construction program.
“That wasn’t my strong suit, but I was good at CAD (computer-aided design),” Saunders said, so he switched to the new AMP program.
After observing the class, Friday said MSDE would do what it could to help the program reach its goal of developing a workforce for local industr y.
“I’m interested in seeing a strong manufacturing economy here on the Eastern Shore, that’s here to stay,” Friday said.
Kyleigh Witter, a junior at North Caroline High School, discusses the design plan behind a cajon.
Untangled Minds Executive Director Nicole Mihalos, right, presents to North Caroline High School students Friday on business logistics and strategy. Also pictured is Alan Stein, president of Untangled Minds.