Innovation for the Future
McKenzie Center Prepares Students for Placement in the Workforce
Writer: Josh Lowe
Photography provided by the McKenzie Center
Lawrence Township Schools offers an option that many other school districts don’t: its own campus for practical career learning. The McKenzie Center for Innovation & Technology (MCIT) is not only giving high school students practical experience, it’s also placing them into careers right after their graduation.
Located at 75 Street near Shadeland Avenue, MCIT allows students to explore areas of vocational interests in a range of areas. Classes range from auto mechanics and collision repair, business education, construction, cosmetology, biomedical technology and information technology and computer science.
MCIT offers a variety of practical and real-world experiences as part of the high school curriculum. Students experience this practical environment in many ways: through laboratories, a construction and auto shop and even a fully-functioning restaurant.
MCIT offers its curriculum in conjunction with students’ regular high school curriculum. High School students are able to take career classes as electives. The aim of MCIT is for students to complete these career programs to lead them to college or a career choice.
MCIT is one of many centers throughout the state preparing high school students for career placement. Many do not realize, but most companies are not necessarily concerned that their employees have a bachelor’s degree. In fact, certifications in areas such as coding often are enough to place graduates in careers right after high school. These opportunities – coupled with grants and scholarships for trade school – save many students from years of debt in post-secondary school.
“The students have incredible skills. Information Technology is hiring right out of certification programs,” says Frank Svarczkopf, MCIT Director of Career Education. He is proud of the opportunity MCIT gives its students to work with professionals in their chosen field.
Indeed, this practical experience allows students to take on the role of an expert in their future careers. Engineering and biomedical students brainstorm issues affecting community health, working with local health professionals to understand these problems. Using the CAD system and 3D printers, students can make prototypes of their designs and present them to experts.
Recently, the MCIT’s biomedical students completed senior projects that won several state championships. One of the projects was a skin cream that would fluoresce when contacted with suspected cancer. Students even worked with patent attorneys to possibly bring their product to market. In addition, the MCIT’s robotics team is now in its 9th year of competition.
“We’re turning out problem solvers,” Svarczkopf says. “Kids that can think on their feet, work in groups and can follow directions.”
Most importantly, students at MCIT understand the importance of being at work on time, ready to work in groups and express their own ideas.
It is the aim of MCIT that, “Each student will strive for his/her personal best in academics, civic consciousness, individual responsibility and interactive professional and personal skills.” The center enrolls more than 2,000 students from both Lawrence Township high schools. Visit mckenzie.ltschools.org for more information.