Students get head start on high-tech careers

Middle school and high school freshmen students have the opportunity to get a head start on preparing for high-tech careers this month.

Jefferson County Industrial Development and Ivy Tech Community College have partnered to create three-day Fast PASS camps designed to teach students professional soft skills in southeastern Indiana.

Fast PASS, which stands for Pathways in Advanced Manufacturing and Soft Skills, will teach participants leadership and problem-solving skills, how to build and program robots, discover their strengths via different activities and more through hands-on learning experiences.

“The idea is for students to gain a better understanding of what skills are needed and the different types of technology used in today’s modern manufacturing environment,” said Katie Wood, Jefferson County Industrial Development Corp. program coordinator.

The Columbus camp, which will be conducted from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, is partnering with Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing.

The first day will be spent at Toyota where students can get a tour of the Columbus facility, speak with engineers and human resources representatives and get hands-on time in the mobile manufacturing lab. A Strengths Explorer assessment will be given on the first day as well to help identify each student’s top three emerging talents and to provide ideas to encourage growth in those areas.

The Fast PASS to Advanced Manufacturing began last year in Madison with a group of 16 students, Wood said. One of that group’s hands-on learning opportunities was to build a playhouse for Habitat for Humanity.

“The original goal of the first camp was to highlight different careers within the field of advanced manufacturing as well as develop the soft skills needed to enter the workforce,” Wood said.

The Columbus session is filled, as the application deadline was in early May.

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Kaitlyn Evener is an editorial assistant for The Republic. She can be reached at or 812-379-5633.