Newly renovated lab impacts students, recruitment

  Thursday, August 23, 2018 7:00 AM
  Academics, News, Milestones, Science and Technology

Pittsburg, KS

Technology & Engineering Education lab

Senior Carter Stohlberg transferred to Pittsburg State to pursue a degree in Technology & Engineering Education for a reason: the reputation of the program.

His choice of degree was inspired by teachers in the Kansas City area, where he grew up, as well as an experience working with youth at a Scout camp.

Now, he says he knows he made the right choice: he is taking classes in the university’s newly-renovated and state-of-the-art Technology & Engineering Education Lab, a project funded by corporate partners Depco and Pitsco — Pittsburg-based technology education businesses that operate on a national scale.

The Kansas Center for Career & Technical Education, which is based at PSU, also provided funding; the lab will support the KCCTE mission through workshops, seminars, and classes. And Miller's Professional Imaging, the largest professional photo lab in the United States that is based in Pittsburg, provided the prints and frames for the walls of the lab.

The lab is designed to better equip future teachers with the skills and strategies to implement Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) activities in their classrooms. According to the U. S. Department of Commerce, workers in STEM occupations are growing at a high rate and are earning higher-than-average salaries.

“You look around this lab and you see the clean look, the new technology, the way it’s laid out, and you can just tell this is the best around,” said Stohlberg, who when he graduates hope to return to the Kansas City area to teach.

The lab features a flexible presentation area with a large touch screen and four additional screens that allow the teacher to zoom in on work being done at the design-build centers that line the perimeter.

Those centers provide hands-on learning opportunities for students in robotics, transportation, power and energy, and problem solving. Each center also features customized tool drawer organizers being designed in the lab by Stohlberg. Additionally, the lab has a fabrication area, an automation (laser and CNC equipment) area, a video production room, as well as an elementary STEM lab.

“This lab can now serve as a model classroom for middle and high schools,” said Byron McKay, an assistant professor in Technology & Workforce Learning who is one of the primary instructors in the lab. “We want our students to be exposed to this kind of approach and for schools to replicate it. It’s organized, it’s efficient, and it provides the best learning experience possible in this discipline.”

“The better a lab is, the better students can perform, no matter their age,” he said. “And for me, I walk in every morning and it’s a great place to work, to teach, to learn.”

Sarah Arnold, a transfer student from Nevada, Missouri, feels the same way.

“What drew me to this was the hands-on interaction with the various technologies,” she said. “I love the open space and flexible seating, because as a teacher that’s important for classroom management. And the tools and resources we have here are by far the most amazing I’ve seen.”

Also noteworthy, said McKay, is that the $120,000 renovation, which was completed in the Spring semester, already is paying big dividends on the recruitment side.

“We have nearly doubled our enrollment in this program since last year,” McKay said. “People walk in our door on a tour, or just pass by as part of an event, and literally say ‘Sign me up. I don’t know what this is, but I want to be here’.”

Learn more about the Technology & Engineering Education program at