WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) -As part of Massachusetts’ fifth annual STEM week, Westfield Middle School students were given the opportunity to learn about the different coding and technology jobs offered at a municipal utility.
STEM refers to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. It has brought together schools, non-profits, colleges, museums, and employers from Massachusetts to showcase potential career paths and enthuse students about them.
For the second day of STEM week, 22News visited Westfield Gas and Electric and Whip City Fiber. Continuing the theme from last year, students were encouraged to “See yourself in STEM” on Tuesday.
“The world is so different beyond our classroom, so take our classroom as an experience, learn a little bit, but really you’re going to apply your skills and passions when you get out into the workforce. We really want to prepare them for that,” said Pat Dufraine, Computer Science teacher at Westfield Middle School.
Before students began a day of learning, they met with the Director of Information Technology who explains that in order to take meter readings 14 years ago, they had to deploy meter readers into the neighborhood.
“Today all those meter readings come to us automatically, we don’t have to send anybody out into the community. And I asked them this question, where is it going to be 14 years from now,” said John Leary, Director of Information Technology for Westfield Gas and Electric.
As they discovered the value of technology throughout the day, this question persisted in their minds as to how they could improve the processes inside the facility.
Workshops helped students to learn about gas and electric safety, mechanics and robotics in the field, computer programming at utilities, and being a dispatcher. They were also given a tour of the company’s facility and trucks and heard about the company’s career opportunities.
“I think it’s incredibly important for kids to realize that there’s another opportunity from your traditional schooling. Especially, with a vocational-technical school, said Ryan Callan, Westfield Gas, and Electric Journeymen lineman. “I think it’s important for the younger folks to have a sense of purpose, to serve something bigger than yourself.”
“See how it implies to reality, I think that is a good start for these kids,” adds Thomas Flaherty, Westfield Gas, and Electric General Manager.
One 14-year-old student shared what he enjoyed most. “I just like electricity and like learning about it, and how they explain it to me, and I wanna do what they do someday,” expressed Christian Edward, Westfield Middle School 8th grade student. This experience helps prepare students like Edward, for STEM-related jobs one day.
STEM week is to continue until October 21st.