CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – Josephine Brown is comfortable behind a microscope. Examining the exoskeleton of a tarantula, she said she has always been interested in biotechnology.
Brown studied the field in high school and at the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center (MCCTC), where she is getting a big jump on her college studies.
“I basically completed my whole first year of college, which saves a lot of money,” she said.
Brown completed her freshman year of college while in high school at MCCTC. The technical school offers early college credits through Youngstown State University, while students are still earning their high school diploma.
Biotechnology is becoming one of the more popular programs for students, according to Biotechnology Instructor Bob Miller. He said the programs at the technical school have evolved, based on the community’s and students’ needs.
“Now, the biotechnology field is growing ever more and what we see is those fields that are higher tech and use more science, you have to have a broader base, which means you have to have more schooling,” he said.
In the Mahoning Valley, there is a big push for STEM — or science, technology, engineering and mathematics — courses.
At MCCTC, students build robots in the engineering lab. The two-year course introduces them to every kind of engineering.
“A lot of the labs will gear them to go directly to a career. We gear them up to go to college. If they don’t go to college, they still have valuable skills they could use to start a career,” said Engineering Instructor Walter Baber.
Baber added that the class has grown from three students four years ago to averaging 10 to 12 students.
“This is not your grandfather’s career tech center anymore,” he said.
Back in the lab, Brown said all the biotechnology classes she took are helping with her new major — chemical engineering. She knows there is a stigma about taking going to a career and technical center but has this advice for high school students:
“Coming here actually might be better for you then staying at your home school,” she said.