Zane State College has partnered with Ohio College Tech Prep to build and foster relationships between education and community businesses in the region. Tech Prep Coordinator Tara Adornetto spearheads this effort. As a Zane State Enrollment Services department team member, she collaborates with high schools and career centers to build pathways to a technical degree or career.
Education and Business Partnerships in the Southeast Region
Of the 25 counties in the Southeast Region, Adornetto is responsible for schools and technical centers in Coshocton, Muskingum, Noble, Guernsey, Perry, and Morgan.
“My role extends beyond educating students about career opportunities. It’s about the pathways to these opportunities and saving students thousands of dollars by strategically aligning their high school credits with college credits. I take pride in my work because I see my impact on their lives and families,” Adornetto said.
The Tech Prep process relies on collaboration and connections with local industry to successfully connect students with businesses. Strong relations are formed through business advisory councils, roundtable discussions, networking opportunities, and workshops. Industry engagement is critical to providing relevant advice to area students. As Ashley Labacki, Business Development Liaison for IBEW Local 1105, said, “I am constantly amazed at how connections work together to achieve great results.”
The Flexibility of FlexFactor: Students Visualizing their Futures in the STEM Field
FlexFactor is designed to educate middle and high school students about the world of advanced manufacturing technology and entrepreneurship. “We divide students into teams of three or five and challenge them to work together to identify a real-world problem that holds value, can be conceptualized using an advanced hardware device, develop a business model/plan, and then pitch it “Shark Tank” style to a panel of education and industry representatives. This can be done over five weeks in the classroom, or we can modify it to a One Day Sprint,” Adornetto explained.
There is a surge of career opportunities in advanced manufacturing, and showcasing the potential to our students is critical. FlexFactor aims to achieve workforce development in this sector by engaging young people with the full range of opportunities in advanced manufacturing and technology sectors. Through strategic partnerships between academic and manufacturing stakeholders, the program provides students with experiences and knowledge to understand what a career in advanced manufacturing looks like. The program also helps identify pathways for students leading into the field.
The program is designed to work within existing classroom structures and absorb subject learning objectives. When layered over an English class, the program can be used to study rhetoric, messaging, and oral presentation. The program can be used in environmental science classes to learn how advanced technologies address environmental challenges. Robotics classes can expand the program for additional weeks and use the extra time to build prototypes of their products. These are just a few examples of how FlexFactor is tailored to work in different classroom settings. Either virtual or in person, the multi-week immersion program provides a transformational experience that helps students visualize their futures, identify the educational pathways to make that future a reality, and gain the confidence to take the necessary steps along that journey.
Currently, in the Southeast Region of Tech Prep, the following colleges have access to the program to implement within any schools interested: Belmont College, Eastern Gateway Community College, Hocking College, Rio Grande Community College, Shawnee State University, Washington State Community College, and Zane State College. A Tech Prep Coordinator for each of these Colleges is setting up FlexFactor within their counties.
If you have questions or to discuss this further, please contact Zane State College at 740.588.5000.
About Tara Adornetto: As a proud Alumni of Zane State College, Tara Adornetto has been with Zane State College for 12 years, with her most recent role as Tech Prep Coordinator. Growing up, Tara’s father worked at the Ohio Ferro Alloy Plant, giving her first-hand experience about the importance of manufacturing. FlexFactor has helped her reconnect with this industry and show students to the dynamics of the manufacturing workforce. In her free time, you can find Tara traveling with her husband or visiting her daughters Ava and Lili.
Photo caption: (from left) Crooksville High School Science Teacher William Sheets with Zane State’s Tech Prep Coordinator Tara Adornetto and Crooksville High School Dean of Instruction Mary Ann Headley.