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Students gear up for a future in tech during MCCTC career fair

Correspondent photo / Sean Barron Fourth-grader Roman Zukowsky of Canfield, left, gets acquainted with an interactive Anatomage table while receiving guidance from Nicholas McGoogan, a Mahoning County Career and Technical Center graduate, during Saturday’s annual Kids Career Fair at the Canfield trade school. Looking on is Leila Vazquez, an MCCTC junior.

CANFIELD — When Connor Lines experimented with alternating and direct currents, no sparks flew, but the opportunity did perhaps amp us his interest in all things electricity.

“It gives power to stuff,” Connor, 9, a third-grader at West Boulevard Elementary School in Boardman, observed.

Whether he one day pursues an apprenticeship and becomes a licensed electrician, only time and a sustained interest in the goal will tell. But for now, Connor seemed content merely to engage in basic circuitry.

He had that opportunity and many other diverse ones, courtesy of Saturday’s third annual Kids Career Fair at the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center, 7300 N. Palmyra Road.

The career center, Valley STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — Academy and City Machine Technologies Inc. of Youngstown hosted the four-hour educational gathering.

“He’s very interested in technical things and computer stuff,” Connor’s father, Charles Lines, said.

Providing a bit of guidance to Connor and other young people who lined up to experiment with the circuit board was Ari DeRosa, an MCCTC freshman who said his main interests lie in engineering and “building stuff.”

A diverse list of nearly 40 vendors were represented at the vast career day, set up largely to expose young people from preschool to high school to the numerous types of careers available in the Mahoning Valley. The event also came with the hope that those who participated will carry with them a positive impression of the career center and consider attending, Jessica Cene, the facility’s marketing and recruiting coordinator, noted.

“I hope we plant a seed to the different careers out there, and maybe they’ll remember something they saw here,” she said.

Among the entities that set up shop Saturday were the Canfield Police Department, the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition, Choffin Career & Technical Center, Gemco Aviation Services, Aim Transportation Solutions, the Helms Foundation, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, MyPath Mahoning Valley (a college access program) and Small Wonders Discovery and Learning Center. In addition, several tables had a variety of information spotlighting many military offerings as well as those from MCCTC and Youngstown State University.

The event gave participants a glance into multiple career fields that included welding, cosmetology, culinary arts, allied health, robotics, human anatomy, creative arts, advanced manufacturing and software development.

The software aspect seemed to intrigue Roman Zukowsky of Canfield, a Hilltop Elementary School fourth-grader who got acquainted with a large, interactive table called an Anatomage.

“I’m just chopping things up and seeing what will happen. I’m very into it,” Roman said in summing up his interactions with the piece of high-tech equipment.

An Anatomage table is said to be the most advanced and sophisticated 3-D anatomy visualization and virtual dissection piece of equipment for students studying physiology and anatomy, the likes of which are being used by many leading medical schools.

Roman, who seems poised to one day become an architect or technology designer for the military, added that he’s gained additional knowledge about anatomy from his mother, who is a nutrition therapist and has explained a lot to him about the importance of a good diet, as well as how the body functions.

For nearly a year, the career center has had such a table that has five real cadavers on which students can learn about X-rays, electrocardiograms, CT scans and other medical procedures, along with chronic and acute illnesses, Bob Miller, an MCCTC biomedical teacher, noted.

“The students can use it not just for the raw anatomy of it, but the physiology side of it,” Miller said.

For example, they can examine and virtually manipulate the intricacies of the human heart to see how it expands and contracts, as well as look at and assess the behavior of the main valves, he added.

In essence, the table’s value also lies in its ability to provide real-life, hands-on approaches with the cadavers as a means to learn in greater detail about anatomy and medical procedures, Miller continued.

Also lending a hand at the station was Leila Vazquez, an MCCTC 11th-grader whose strong passions include chemistry and environmental science.

She had several mouse and insect specimens available to demonstrate to those interested more about their chemical makeup. The small jars of specimens also point to what Vazquez feels will be a big pursuit.

“I’ve wanted to be a marine biologist for as long as I can remember,” she added.

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