Bevill State Community College's Career Pathways Academy is continuing to prepare high school students for careers in automated manufacturing.
Fifteen students from Walker and surrounding counties signed Career Pathways Academy scholarships on July 13 after completing a summer robotics camp to jump-start their journey through the academy.
The Career Pathways Academy began four years ago and has since served an estimated 80 high school students. Bevill State's Maurice Ingle coordinates the program and explained that students begin the academy during the summer prior to their junior year of high school.
After completing the robotics camp the scholarship recipients go on to take two courses each semester at the college during their junior year that focus on automation and industrial maintenance. The summer before their senior year students complete job tours to observe men and women actively working in automated manufacturing.
By the time students graduate, they will have earned a short-term certificate in automated manufacturing and go on to complete associate's degrees before entering the workforce.
Ingle said some students who have graduated the academy are currently enrolled at Bevill State and have received scholarships to complete their education.
The newest group of scholars who completed robotics camp impressed instructors with their ability to quickly learn robotic programming.
"Students amaze me with how quickly they pick up on programming. The second day, they were programming the robot to do different things," Ingle said. "The week of Career Pathways Academy’s Robotics Camp was an exciting week. I enjoyed meeting some amazing young students and have witnessed them learning and planning for their futures."
Bevill State instructors Robbie Spears, Chris Shelton and Colby Patton lead students in the academy and help prepare them for industry jobs.
"The Career Pathways Academy is a great opportunity for students," Spears said. "They're able to train on top of the line robots with Yaskawa certified trainers. The opportunities that students have through Bevill State's career technical training are monumental."
The Career Pathways Academy is made possible through grant funding, and Ingle said the college is working to secure additional funding in order for the program to continue producing the next generation of automated manufacturing employees.
"I am glad to hear this year's robotics camp at Bevill State's Career Pathways Academy has been a success," Sen. Greg Reed, R-Jasper, said in an emailed statement to the Daily Mountain Eagle. "I worked closely with Bevill State's leadership back in 2015 and 2016 to help secure funding for this initiative, and I am pleased with the success Bevill State has had in teaching valuable technical skills like robotics to high school students from Walker, Winston, Fayette and Tuscaloosa counties."
He added, "We have had good participation from area employers who have partnered with Bevill State's Career Pathways Academy, and I hope there will be opportunities to expand the program in future years to offer more high school students a chance to learn the technical skills that are in demand in today's job market."
Each student who signed a scholarship on July 13 received an iPad and was joined by their parents to mark the occasion.
The following is a list of students who received Career Pathways Scholarships: Shannon Ary, Brianna Cooper and Gena Pendley of Cordova High School; Nathan Harris, Summer Meigs and Claire Moore of Jasper High School; Colton Abernathy, Trace Nelson and Tyler Lollar of Berry High School; Jackson Criswell, Joseph Dill, Brett Ray and Landon Shexnayder of Corner High School; and Mason Sherrill and Trace Taylor of Fayette County High School.