Aiken County students learn real-life skills with Dell Tech Academy | Education

Aiken County students are able to gain real-life skills for the future with the Dell Student TechCrew.

Kenneth Lott, principal at Aiken County Career and Technology Center, spoke to Aiken County school board members on May 24 about the program. With the program, Dell works with a nonprofit in the community, in this case the North Augusta Chamber Education Workforce Foundation, to offer hands-on experience and work-based learning opportunities through the Dell curriculum.

“We facilitate this program through what we call an information port service pathway, which is a part of the IT career cluster,” Lott said. “…Basically, our students take a sequence of courses to become what we call pathway completers. Pathway completers mean you take a sequence of courses, along with industry certifications, and you become a completer in that particular area.”

During their freshmen year, Lott said students might take fundamentals of computing, and then in their second year learn about computer repair and service; and in the third year, students will take advanced computer repair and service. Students can also earn industry certifications.

“Once students receive these certifications and they enroll through, they are actually qualified to go work in the industry post high school. So they have an opportunity to go out with their certifications. … We have companies that are interested in hiring our students. One of our goals in the fourth year is to have internships – both in the district as well as externships throughout the CSRA – to put our students to work with the skills we acquire,” Lott said.

He added that since the program was brought to the district at the beginning of the school year, 63 students have become certified Dell technicians and more than 520 computers have been repaired, with most of those having been in the North Augusta area. For the 2022-23 school year, the projected enrollment is 320 students, Lott added.

“Aiken County, currently this year, we had four schools participate – Aiken High, North August High, Ridge Spring-Monetta and Wagener-Salley High School,” Lott said. “Then, of course, we’re looking to expand to Midland Valley High School, Silver Bluff High School and South Aiken High School, as well.”

Michelle O’Rourke, the computer repair and service and advanced computer repair at North Augusta High School, spoke about the Dell Tech Academy and the benefits students receive from participating in it.

“Industry certifications are key to getting any job in technology,” O’Rourke said. “It’s not so much about having a bachelor’s degree as it is having these certificates… So they all have their Dell certification, and in the second year, next year, they’ll complete a Test Out PC Pro certification and CompTIA A+. So they are ready to work when they graduate.”

She added that at North Augusta High, 25 students earned their Dell certification before Thanksgiving last year, and as of May 24, over 500 laptops at NAHS had been repaired.

Lott said the students work with the technology department to work on their skills and that they can help on basic repairs while the technicians work on larger jobs.

“It’s a win-win situation for students. Students need career readiness skills. Schools need additional technical support and student TechCrew delivers that … so everybody benefits from this opportunity,” Lott said. “… We really want to look at work-based learning opportunities, both internal and external … career and technical education continues to prepare students for post-secondary success.”

School board members applauded the work the career center is doing and voiced their support for the program.

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