Hoffman had been referred to Watje by
Still, Watje admitted that he was skeptical. Then Hoffman started working.
“He picked it up right away and we were so impressed with that,” said Watje, professing amazement at how quickly the teenager became proficient. “In the six weeks he was here, he literally designed a product for us.”
The company needs to build a prototype yet, but the CEO has high hopes for the product and how it will position them in the market. “If that is successful, we’ll have a heck of a competitive advantage,” he said, over other garbage truck manufacturers.
Now Curbtender has two more students who’ve gone through CAPS, senior
“It’s been a great experience for us,” he said.
While the students’ work at Curbtender is similar to what’s done in the CAPS program, in these cases they are directly paid employees of the company and not earning dual high school-college credit. But the company got interested in the students after it became a business partner with CAPS.
“The program gets a lot of people at the table,” he said. “The key to the success is everyone finding value.”
CAPS is touting some other recent successes, as well.
Students in last spring’s CAPS session designed a set of large banners for
Curbtender’s hiring of students is “a great CAPS story,” said Wiechmann. “We’ve got a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old that are working as engineers on this project.”
Wiechmann said the district decided to hold the summer CAPS program, which enrolled five students, because of the difficulty some kids had in finding time in their schedule to take it.
Both Zhang and Smothers are interested in studying engineering in college. They learned computer-aided design skills through the CAPS program and earlier Project Lead the Way classes.
“As we were going through CAPS, I was thinking these skills would help me get a job one day,” said Smothers. “I just didn’t realize how soon.”
Watje’s wife was at an event where the summer CAPS students were making presentations about their projects and alerted her husband that there were two more students with an interest in engineering that he may want to consider hiring. They started working for Curbtender about two weeks before school started and are continuing this fall after classes each day.
When they were offered the positions, “that was pretty surprising,” said Zhang. The boys are learning a lot about engineering and picking up some new skills related to the design program used by Curbtender.
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“It’s just a lot of new experiences here that we didn’t have to deal with in the classroom,” said Zhang. “So we’re learning here every day.”
Along the way, they’ve also made quite a bit of progress on the project. Once the design is done, a prototype will be made.
“We’ll start probably cutting steel for that in two weeks,” said Watje. “They’re going to see it to completion, is my hope.”
Afterward, “if they want to stay with us, we have another project for them,” he noted. “By the end of their school year, I’m hoping both of those projects are complete and in production.”
“This just happened to be a project that was on our list,” said
The design they chose includes a blue line through the center of the banner based on a satellite image of the
Participating in the CAPS can give businesses and organizations “an option for some of those projects you can’t get to,” she said. In addition, the program “helps foster the next generation of community leaders.”
Cedar Falls CAPS leaders are working across school lines to help their brand of career education proliferate. Teachers with
“We think this model has some legs to it and a lot of potential,” said Wiechmann. “We just need to figure out all the bugs.”
“We’re pretty excited about it. From the sound of it, it will be a co-working space that will house CAPS,” said
“The CAPS program really allows us to do that pretty easily,” he noted. “We’re very excited for the
Details are not yet worked out concerning partner businesses or the program’s location.
“We’re still in the planning stages of all those logistics,” said Thole. “The first step was to inform the (school) board of this. Now that is passed, we’re going to begin the rest of it.”
Rea said his school is piloting CAPS on behalf of
“I feel like we’re doing everything to get prepared to give our kids a great learning experience,” said Rea.
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