When Okalani Lopez watched her mom at work a few months ago, she decided she would like to explore a career in healthcare.
âI saw what she did and how she helped everyone,â said Okalani, an eighth grade student at South Middle School. She was describing the work of her mother, who is a nurse.
âI really wanted to be like her,â Okalani said.
Okalani was among about 1,000 eighth grade students from Rapid City area schools exploring a multitude of professional and academic fields at the school district’s fifth annual 8th grade college and career fair. The fair was held at Black Hills State University-Rapid City, located in Box Elder.
âI just want (students) to realize that there is a wide variety of careers out there and that they really don’t have to be stuck in one specific area,â said Lily Bruckner, director of preparation for the school. RCAS university and career, and the fair coordinator. “A career in one field can include hundreds of different career options.”
The fair was held in November, recognized by RCAS and other school districts as College and Career Preparation Month.
Bruckner said the fair was aimed at all eighth grade students in the school district, and she said the school district had partnered with more than 50 representatives from businesses, schools and other organizations in the region. The fair was sponsored by Black Hills State University-Rapid City, Black Hills Energy and Monument Health, according to an announcement from the school district.
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Amy Hasvold, Mechanical Engineer for RESPEC, Rapid City, illustrated the use of anchor bolts to âstabilize loose soilâ. She brought samples of both.
âThis table that I have all these loose rocks in has no bottom,â she said. âSo all the rocks are held together just with the bolts. Because they are properly spaced and have the right tension, all of the rock is compressed together to create a structural beam.
Hasvold said the strategic placement of the bolts and the balancing of the rocks created a beam strong enough to support its weight if it stood on it – a fact she repeatedly demonstrated to students.
âIt demonstrates what students can do in civil engineering, geotechnical engineering, mining engineering – really, any industry that is going to require ground stability,â she said.
Teresa Fink was part of a team representing an established profession better known, perhaps, from classic films starring court dramas. She is an official court reporter for the South Dakota Unified Court System. But Fink quickly pulled the profession into a range of more contemporary contexts by describing how the skills of court reporting can be applied to many fields.
People who receive the training – in addition to serving as reporters in a courthouse – could become caption writers for sporting events. They could also use the skill in a school setting, writing captions for presentations to reach hearing-impaired students.
Fink described an online program that takes about two years to prepare for the profession. She said the job involved learning shorthand and reaching a speed of 225 words per minute – a less daunting task for someone who has developed dexterity while playing a musical instrument.
Or even frequent texts.
âIt’s a shortcut,â said Fink, making a connection between texting and a well-established profession. “These children write texts in shorthand.”
As the students moved around the career fair, they kept their interests in mind by listening to presentations and visiting exhibitions put together by professional and academic experts.
Caiden Logue, an eighth-grader at South Middle School, said he sees the prospect of construction as a possible career.
âI like practical things,â Caiden said. “And I like to use machines.”
For Ilke Celik, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at South Dakota Mines, the fair has created a way to educate students about sustainable practices they can start using right now – and also plan to incorporate them into more. future careers. Sustainable practices, she said, apply to mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and a host of other fields.
âIt’s a very interdisciplinary idea,â Celik said of sustainability. âIt’s about taking the basic designs in each area and then making them more sustainable. “
Celik and Achyuth Ravilla, PhD graduates from South Dakota Mines. a civil and environmental engineering student, modeled the energy and cost savings of LED bulbs compared to incandescent bulbs. The exercise illustrated the wider applications of sustainability that could reach students’ careers, as well as their daily lives.
Bruckner said Friday’s college and career fair was divided into five career groups linked to the school district’s six high school academies. She said the students had already made an inventory of career interests which identified a cluster of careers, but, she added, “we also want them to explore careers that are not in their immediate interest. “.
The whole concept of exploration seemed central to the fair.
âThis event is really about exposing students to a variety of career options and showing them that all options are valid,â said Bruckner. âWe really want students to understand what all of these options are good for as long as they work for them. “