CAPS program leading students to career option discoveries

“In CAPS we look at the progress made and at your growth,” CAPS teacher Maria Perez said.

Perez works with students in the Technology and Engineering division of CAPS. With her bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering, her master’s in civil engineering and her other professional experiences, this program was the perfect opportunity to use her skills.

CAPS is a real world, project-based class for students wanting to be involved with one of three career strands: Technology and Engineering, Communication and Design or Education.

For this division of CAPS, the types of projects students work one are only related to that field.

Senior Avery Bauer said, “I wanted to be in CAPS because I wanted to take a class that would better prepare me for after high school, and to learn skills that are needed in today’s world. I chose Tech/Engineering because I am good with numbers and thought that engineering would be something that I wanted to do after high school.”

Bauer said one of the bigger benefits that he was excited about is that CAPS allows students to earn five college credits and get more perspective when thinking about careers after high school.

Perez said she encourages any students who have an interest in career exploration and real-life experiences to apply to be in the CAPS program.

“We can work in projects in most fields — these students would just need to make their interests clear in advance, so we can find the right projects,” she said.

Ethan Wiechmann is the director of the CAPS programs. He helps coordinate every strand’s operations, such as working with the community relationships or always looking for ways to improve the experience of our current and future associates.

Weichmann works with all divisions, making each visit count by helping students and instructors with extra support and help that is needed.

“Most importantly, Ethan brings a lot of energy whenever he is around,” Perez said

Students have gotten the opportunities to work worth companies locally and companies from out of state on many projects.

Several students have worked with the 3D printer and scanners at Viking Pump. Some also worked on a mechanical engineering project with Kryton Engineering, working with the staff and engineers of the city.

Others had worked with INVISION on a discovery face of a possible new building of the high school, and some have worked for the Cedar Falls School District with Mixed Reality.

The students also had an opportunity to work closely with OMEGA cabinetry, the Black Hawk County Conservation District and VGM.

All in all, the students of this CAPS division benefit most by being able to use and gain technical skills and advance their professional skills by learning experiences through projects and advancing in their workplace skills.

“We try to evaluate in the same way how an employee is evaluated. In CAPS, we look at the progress made and at your growth,” Perez said.

Giving students a chance to be located at Viking Pump, this helps the students gain an experience of being in a professional work space.

“By being immersed in a professional environment, the students get to see how professionals act, dress, talk, work, etc.,” Perez said.

Other than learning basic professional skills such as handshaking, public speaking, sending emails and talking with clients, senior Tyler Starbeck said that over the first semester of being in CAPS he’s gotten a lot of suggestions and perspective on what his next plans are for the future.

“I have also learned more about myself,” he said, “like what I want to do after high school.”

Perez said it also provides students with mentors and projects to our associates, and the students get to make great connections with the staff here.

Senior Chimzim Ogbondah said his experience was amazing. By working with multiple companies and doing different products, Ogbondah said he had felt that with each project or associate, he felt as though he was a part of their team.

“If you’re unsure about what you want to do, CAPS will at the least narrow down your options,” Ogbondah said.

He said that CAPS is a great opportunity to work with business on things students are passionate about, and it will refine students as people in many ways.

Overall, Perez says the impact on students’ lives after being in this division of the CAPS program will leave them with a tremendous amount of experience and growth for student’s futures.

“The students grow tremendously in their time management skills, technical skills, professional skills and career exploration,” she said.

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