Partnership expands career, tech ed for schools

Photos by Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
Construction Trades students, Jasper High School seniors Elijah Main, left, Cameron Mehringer and Jaime Diaz, work in a group to install insulation in the construction trades lab at Vincennes University Jasper on Monday. The Patoka Valley Career & Technical Cooperative class teaches students all aspects of the building process through completing labs and visiting construction sites.


JASPER — The banging of hammers echoed down the hall at the Center for Technology, Innovation and Manufacturing at Vincennes University Jasper on Monday as a construction trades class worked in the lab, learning to build homes.

Except the construction students weren’t college students. They were high schoolers.

The class of about 20 students from high schools across the Patoka Valley is one of several career and technical training programs offered through the Patoka Valley Career & Technical Cooperative — a collaboration between 10 school districts in Dubois, Gibson, Perry, Pike and Spencer counties. The construction trades class is one of several programs added to the co-op’s lineup this year, thanks to a partnership between the co-op and VUJ.

“VUJ has a tremendous facility there,” said Jarred Howard, director of the co-op. “They have the up-to-date equipment ... [having classes on campus] gives us a centralized place to meet.”

This year, the Automation and Robotics Academy launched through Hub 19, which is a collaboration between the four Dubois County school corporations. Future Health Professionals classes — formerly known as HOSA — also moved to VUJ. The co-op’s IT and EMT programs were already hosted at the college.

Next year, Howard said, the collaboration will add a second level of construction trades, the AR Academy and an aviation program.

Construction Trades teacher Luke Nordhoff, left, shows students how to install and remove siding in the construction trades lab at Vincennes University Jasper on Monday.

“It’s a win for us because they have the facilities and they provide the instructors in a lot of the courses,” Howard said. “And it’s a win for them because they’re collecting tuition off some of our students.”

The programs also give students the opportunity to earn dual credits that are stackable with associate and bachelor’s degree programs Vincennes University offers. Students in the AR Academy, for example, have the opportunity to earn the equivalent of the first year of an associate degree if they take the class both their high school junior and senior years.

“It creates a pipeline for some of the associate degrees we offer,” said Jacob Berg, director of the CTIM Building at VUJ.

The co-op also offers several programs at the high schools, some of which also offer dual credit opportunities. Howard said that those programs will continue.

Overall, the Patoka Valley Career & Technical Cooperative houses 35 programs with about 550 students. Each program is geared toward giving high school students experience in career fields of interest to help them determine a path after graduation. Some programs — like construction trades — place students in internships and provide field trips with local companies to get them on-the-job experience.

A recent trip to Dubois County Block and Brick will stick with Jasper High School senior Daniel Uebelhor. On that trip, the class got to practice laying brick, something that was new for Daniel.

He took the construction class at Jasper, but he’s glad he decided to take the class through the co-op as well.

“You do more,” he said.

And the class has made him even more sure that he wants to pursue a career in construction.

Going forward, Howard said, he doesn’t anticipate moving additional programs to VUJ. Instead, he said, the partnership will work to build on the programs already offered at the university and to add new ones down the line.

“There’s no doubt that it’s helping our students,” Howard said.

More on