PITTSBURG — On Friday, hundreds of high school students learned about construction, welding, graphic design and more as they wandered the halls and filled the classrooms of the Kansas Technology Center for the College of Technology Open House.

Students from across eastern Kansas, southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas gained hands on experience through simulations and demonstrations — including HoloLens, glasses which allow interior designers to visualize potential changes in design without having to visit the job site, and a digital sandbox which has a contour map to simulate water flow and collection at building sites using sand and a sensor. Other students climbed aboard an excavator to scoop a ball into a bucket.
These are a few of the many demonstrations the school made available to the students, each of which are either being used or are emerging in the professional workplace,  according to PSU Interior Design Coordinator for the School of Construction Denise Bertoncino.

Bertoncino said the event allowed students to learn about things they may not know was available. The open house was a place where teachers and PSU students can explain these pathways so the high schoolers giving an opportunity to learn what they are all about.
“The HoloLens for example — they learn how it all works today,” she said. “It opens students eyes to what’s available out there and here — the latest and greatest at Pitt … it’s pretty exciting for these kids.”

The event was also beneficial for students whose schools may not have technology programs, Bertoncino said.

Technology in Engineering Education Student Gavin Tracy gave students a tour of the Technology and Workforce Learning Lab. Tracy said he went on a smaller personal tour years ago and he fell in love with the program, now he is a senior with plans to become a teacher.

Tracy said the open house is a great opportunity to find out what career choice may be for them.

“All of these demos are actually showing what gets done in here and I think it's very beneficial for them,” he said.

Tracy said during the event, students have expressed interest in being in PSU’s technology programs — including Technology in Engineering Education.
“Several (students) have come to me and said this is the starting point … with us teaching everything in here they thought this was a great place to start,” he said. “I saw a lot of light bulbs come on when I started talking about certain areas.

“Once I showed them all of the things that are encompassed in that, they got even more excited with each process that I showed them.”
Two Circle High School students Torrin Reisert and Aaron Goucher, among several hundred other students, walked the halls together with a few souvenirs from the demonstrations — including construction hats and frisbees.

Goucher said he is interested in the plastics program and shared what he learned.

“I thought it was really cool — this being one out of four plastic departments in Kansas,” he said. “Like they said, plastics is a high demand and people are really starting to need stuff made out of plastic — especially for prototypes and other things they need to make.”
Reisert agreed. Reisert said he is more interested in construction, but being only a sophomore in high school he leaves the door open for possibilities in the other technology departments such as graphic design, photography and welding.
“I can see all of the stuff I can probably do,” he said. “I would like to come here and I would recommend coming here.”

— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.