Cullman Area Technology Academy showcases programs at annual open house

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Senior Brody Montgomery demonstrates welding at the Cullman Area Technology Academy Open House Thursday night. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

VINEMONT, Ala. – Faculty, staff and students at the Cullman Area Technology Academy (CATA, still known to many as the Career Center) braved the bad weather to showcase the school’s programs for prospective students and their families at an open house Thursday night.  All ninth graders in the county get an opportunity to take a brief tour of each department at the facility, but the open house gave them a chance to come back for extra time with the programs that interest them. Visitors had the chance to talk to instructors, see classrooms and equipment, and even try out a few things.

CATA’s programs offer students the chance to get real hands-on experience in vocational fields that are in high demand and offer good job opportunities and a good living.  Automotive Tech students perform everything from oil changes to custom paint jobs for real customers. Health Science and Mechatronics students use state-of-the-art simulation equipment to replicate real-world work situations.  Construction students have taken on multiple building projects around the community. Precision Machining students are even manufacturing storage unit components that will be used on the International Space Station. In whatever field they study, CATA students can graduate high school with skills and credentials that can catch employers’ attention and get them to work quickly.

CATA Principal Billy Troutman told The Tribune, “Every program is going to offer some kind of credential or at least articulated credit (advanced placement-type credits that can shorten the time needed in post-high school programs at Wallace State).  It doesn’t matter what it is, if you take any of the shops up here, you know, we work so closely with Wallace, anyway. But every program has an articulated credit-type agreement. Depending on what the shop is, if it’s one of the–I call them the technology shops–the kids are actually getting credentialed in the NCCER (National Center for Construction Education & Research) core.  I can almost go through every program and tell you what the credentials are. Culinary Arts kids have the opportunity to get ServSafe certified. My dual enrollment course with Wallace right now, that MSSC (Manufacturing Safety and Skills Credential) course, is awesome!  It’s there, and actually, kids can get a Certified Production Technician’s credential there, which is a pretty big deal.

He continued, “The Toyota/Mazda group (for the new plant in Huntsville) that’s coming in, they actually called a meeting a few weeks ago, and really stressed their liking and importance, and they’re actually going to use that MSSC as a way to basically sort applications.  There’s going to be a box they can check off for that, so that’s big. CNA students, they can get CNA certificates.  They’re actually getting some dual enrollment right now in a basic EMT course, too.  So they’re doing that. Of course, ROTC students get the ROTC certificate.  There’s certain levels that they have to do, that if the instructors will sign off one the certificate, it allows them to go in–if they do enlist in the military–it allows them to go in at a higher pay grade; so that’s basically a credential. Of course, you know Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). There’s several different ASE opportunities for kids to credential in, whether it be brakes and engines, or engines and performance, or whatever.”

Continued Troutman, “In Horticulture, Mr. (Peter) Moore’s bunch does turf and landscape management credentials.  There’s forestry credentials that are available, pesticide applicators’ permits. Every program has something the students can get. Mechatronics up there, they get NCCER core as well; but they also cover a whole segment of that industrial maintenance sector that carries over awesome into our articulated credit arrangement at Wallace.”

Brody Montgomery, a senior in the CATA Welding program who just signed with Wallace State’s Welding program on Thursday, shared, “I love it.  I mean, you get to come up here, and it’s what I’ve always wanted to do since ninth grace. And I’ve come up here ever since I was able to, and I’ve learned a lot.  Mr. (Jacob) Ayers, he helps us a bunch. I mean, it’s a great program.”

Thanks to his CATA training, Montgomery can complete his associate degree in one year, on his way to a planned career in pipeline welding.

CATA specializes in Career and Technical Education (CTE) and offers 15 career/technical programs, including:

  • Auto Collision Repair
  • Auto Service Technology
  • Building Construction
  • Cosmetology
  • Culinary Arts
  • Drafting Technology
  • Electrical Technology
  • Engineering Technology
  • Health Science
  • Heating/Air Conditioning
  • Horticulture
  • JROTC
  • Mechatronics Technology
  • Precision Machining
  • Welding

Learn more about CATA at  http://cata.ccboe.org.

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