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TSA members encouraged to plan, learn and follow their dreams

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Speakers at the Oklahoma Technology Student Association’s Fall Leadership Conference encouraged state TSA members to plan for their futures and follow their dreams.

The students met earlier this month in Norman to attend leadership workshops, network with other TSA members, take part in a STEM challenge, participate in community service activities and explore careers through an industry panel. TSA is the CareerTech student organization affiliated with science, technology, engineering and math education.

Greg Smith, Northrup Grumman director and Oklahoma City site leader, told the students that the future is in their hands.

“Your brain is prime territory for building the future,” he said.

Smith was one of four people speaking as part of the industry panel. Also on the panel were state Rep. Nicole Miller, R-Edmond; Kozetta Chapman, senior manager of technical operations recruiting and development at American Airlines; and Rachel Leach, a specialist in forensic biology at the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

Miller spoke to the students about legislation she has worked on concerning transportation and what the future of transportation in Oklahoma might look like.

“We are actually on the precipice of a transportation revolution,” she said. “The world we’re living in us on the edge of a transportation revolution because of the electrification of the propulsion engine.”

Miller said she worked last year on legislation authorizing the use autonomous vehicles in Oklahoma and told students about a trip she took to visit a company in Texas, where she rode in a level 4 automated truck while a driver was mapping routes. In a level 4 automated vehicle, the system is responsible for driving tasks in a limited area, and a human driver isn’t needed to operate the vehicle, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Miller described the ride as “uneventful,” adding that she was more nervous merging onto S.H. 74 in Oklahoma than she was riding in the truck.

She also discussed aerospace and drones and issues, including privacy, that will arise as their use becomes more common. Oklahoma needs to make sure that policies are in place to protect people, she said, but even if the legislature does so, how the future comes about will depend on students like those in TSA.

“We can build the best framework policy, but if we don’t have the workforce for it, it doesn’t mean anything at all,” she said.

Chapman told the TSA members about career opportunities at American Airlines, from reservation and gate agents to engineers and pilots, both of which have responsibility for aircraft safety, she said. American workers also include flight attendants and aircraft mechanics, and the company has a site in Tulsa that interested school groups can tour, she added.

“Because you are leaders, I definitely encourage you to look at American Airlines as a place you want to work,” she said.

Leach told the students about the route she took to her job at OSBI, which involves DNA analysis. She has previously worked in criminal investigations, going to crime scenes, and as an autopsy lab assistant, she said.

Forensics is a broad field, she explained, with other options for students interested in forensics, but not in biology. Other forensics areas at OSBI include latent evidence, firearms, trace evidence and digital evidence.

Although bringing closure to a case and to a family feels good, Leach said, it is important to remember as a forensic specialist that she is not on the side of the prosecution or the defense in a case -- but on the side of the facts.

“You can’t hope to get certain results,” she said. “You just get the results you get; you can’t think about helping one side or another.”

Smith encouraged the students to keep learning, saying that the world needs them to build what’s next.

Northrop Grumman, he said, built the James Webb Space Telescope, “and we need you to build the next one.”

TSA is one of seven CareerTech student organizations affiliated with CareerTech programs. It is affiliated with science, technology, engineering and math education. The other six are FCCLA (family and consumer sciences education), DECA (marketing education), SkillsUSA (trade and industrial education), Business Professionals of America (business and information technology education), FFA (agricultural education) and HOSA (health careers education).


About Oklahoma CareerTech

The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education provides leadership and resources and assures standards of excellence for a comprehensive statewide system of career and technology education. The system offers programs and services in 29 technology center districts operating on 60 campuses, 391 PK-12 school districts, 15 Skills Centers campuses that include three juvenile facilities and 32 adult education and family literacy service providers.

The agency is governed by the State Board of Career and Technology Education and works closely with the State Department of Education and the State Regents for Higher Education to provide a seamless educational system for all Oklahomans.

Last Modified on Oct 20, 2023