The Cazenovia Central School District’s Technology Department hosted an open house on March 23, showcasing their programs and equipment to a dozen tech teachers from surrounding areas. This year, Cazenovia’s department was recognized as the Central New York Technology Department of the Year and department leader Chris Hurd was named the Central New York Technology Teacher of the Year.
“When I first started teaching here 20 years ago, there was a metal shop and a wood shop; I taught the wood shop,” Hurd said. “Now we have 27 percent of graduating students pursuing technical careers. These kids are extremely motivated; they come to us with the energy, we just try to channel it in the right direction.”
The Cazenovia Technology Department has maintained a respected reputation for the past decade; being the first in the area and in some cases the state, to partake in such programs as the Electrathon and Project Lead The Way, as well as developing sophisticated podcasting and television production studios.
The department’s open house began in Hurd’s room with the presentation of a commemorative plaque to the tech teachers by Mo Lepine, President of the Central New York Technology Education Association and Cazenovia High School alumnus.
“Cazenovia has always had a strong tradition of career development in the areas of agriculture and technology. These areas are still very strong, and are very well known,” Lepine said. “When students graduate from Cazenovia they have a very strong academic base, but they have also been exposed to advanced programs and sophisticated equipment.”
Students first encounter technology courses while in middle school, during their seventh-grade year. Instructors introduce the students to the elementary principles of the subject; combining math and science with problem-solving units, having the students construct their own rockets, airplanes and air cars.
As the children enter the high school they are given the opportunity to experience more involved courses. The technology department features such classes as web page design, programming, principals in engineering, architecture, video editing and radio broadcasting.
For students that wish to pursue a career in the technological field, they are given opportunities to implement their ideas senior year. For their senior engineering project, Kyle Kattrein, Bill Newmiller, Ben Spangler and Patrick Nunez have designed, constructed and programmed an Underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle. The robot’s PVC-pipe frame is configured with propellers and cameras, temperature gauges and even a pH sensor. The students developed the machine in order to easily monitor the levels of the invasive species Eurasian Watermilfoil in Cazenovia Lake by diving down 40 feet below the surface and digitally recording their findings.
The technology department is comprised of just five teachers that offer over 15 courses yearly. Between them, they have over 50 years of experience. Thuc Phan, Jason Hyatt, Jason Webb, Rob Axelson and Chris Hurd instruct upwards of 350 of students. Each teacher gave a brief synopsis of their role at Cazenovia during the open house as the area tech teachers toured the school. Listening to each instructor, it was apparent they share a strong enthusiasm for the material with their students, and strive to keep the less-interested pupils engaged.
Of last year’s graduating class, 54 percent of students went on to pursue careers and studies in science, technology, engineering and math. 27 percent of those students were specifically interested in technology and engineering. As the Cazenovia Technology Department’s reputation continues to grow, so does its size.
Numerous classrooms are packed full of computers, robots, editing software and other specialized equipment. What’s remarkable about this fact is that students facilitate funding during difficult economic times. Thousands of dollars have been raised in past years by students and alumni of the tech department.
Being a comprehensive program, there are a multitude of websites to explore, offering information on each teacher and the courses they conduct. In addition to the Cazenovia Central School District website caz.cnyric.org (which Phan maintains), those looking for more information on the programs can access cazhigh.com/cte. To learn more about the New York Electrathon, which was started at Cazenovia; visit nyelectrathon.com. Finally, for all Computer Integrated Manufacturing questions and curiosities, investigate Hurd’s YouTube channel, ChrisHurdCIM.