CATA Career Caravan visits middle schools to promote technical education

Vinemont Middle School students get up close and personal with a self-navigating robot built by CATA’s Mechatronics Technology Department.

VINEMONT, Ala. – On Tuesday, students at West Point and Vinemont Middle Schools got visits from the Cullman Area Technology Academy (CATA) Career Caravan, during which student ambassadors representing each of the career center’s 14 programs talked about their departments, displayed tools of their trades and even let the younger students get hands-on with some simple projects. The caravan program visits all middle schools through the course of the year, introducing middle schoolers to CATA’s course offerings and explaining the advantages of career technical education in the current job market.

CATA Counselor Diane Barnett, who oversees the Career Caravan project, told The Tribune, “It’s to showcase our programs that we have at CATA, and we have 14 different career technical programs. We take it to every middle school in the county, and we let our middle school kids rotate between them. It gives them just a glimpse of the programs; it gets them interested. It’s a good recruiting tool for us. It’s good for my kids, it’s good for the middle school kids. Then we, in the eighth grade, bring them up to our campus for eighth grade tour. It just gives them a glimpse of what they might want to do in a future career and what we have to offer.”

CATA programs represented in the Career Caravan include: 

  • Auto Collision Repair
  • Auto Service Technology
  • Building Construction
  • Cosmetology
  • Culinary Arts
  • Electrical Technology
  • Engineering Technology
  • Health Sciences
  • Heating/Air Conditioning-HVAC
  • Horticulture
  • Mechatronics Technology
  • Precision Machine Technology
  • Welding


Within the various programs are courses that can help prepare students for different career paths within the larger fields. For example, Health Science students can get CNA and EMT certifications while still in high school, and can proceed into nursing or other medical training at Wallace State or a four-year institution. 

Asked what she hopes the middle schoolers get from the caravan’s visit, Barnett said, “I hope that, by seeing this, it will get them interested in a certain pathway; there are 16 career pathways. They need to be thinking, at this point in time, about: do they want to work inside or outside? Do you want to work with people, animals, cars? Do you want to work alone? Are you a good team member? Those kinds of things.

“We hope to get them started down a path. And then, when they come to our school, most of my kids leave and go straight on to Wallace or into a job, but most of them go to Wallace and continue their education, and then get a high-paying job with the skills they’ve learned.”

For more information on CATA and its programs, visit

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W.C. Mann