Senior Carter Stohlberg transferred to Pittsburg State to pursue a degree in Technology & Engineering Education for a reason: the reputation of the program.

He made the right choice, he said, after taking classes in the university’s newly-renovated and state-of-the-art Technology & Engineering Education Lab.

The lab features a flexible presentation area with a large touch screen and four additional screens that allow a teacher to zoom in on work being done at the design-build centers on the perimeter.

Chair Andrew Klenke said the lab was designed to better equip future teachers like Stohlberg with the skills and strategies needed to implement Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) activities in their classrooms.

Byron McKay (BSEd ‘13, MS ‘16), is now an assistant professor in Technology & Engineering Education and appreciates how far the program and the lab have come, both in terms of academics as well as recruiting.

Byron McKay (BSEd ‘13, MS ‘16), is now an assistant professor in Technology & Engineering Education and appreciates how far the program and the lab have come, both in terms of academics as well as recruiting.

At each center, elementary and middle school students overseen by university students can engage in hands-on activities in robotics, transportation, power and energy, and problem solving. There are customized tool drawer organizers. And, there’s a fabrication area, an automation area with laser and CNC equipment, a video production room, and an elementary STEM lab.

“You look around this lab and you see the clean look, the new technology, the way it’s laid out, and you can just tell this is the best around,” said Stohlberg, who hopes to return to the Kansas City area to teach.

Approximately $120,000 for the renovation came from corporate partners Depco and Pitsco — both Pittsburg-based technology education businesses that operate on a national scale — and the Kansas Center for Career & Technical Education, also housed in the Kansas Technology Center.

“This lab can now serve as a model classroom for middle and high schools,” said Byron McKay, an assistant professor in Technology & Workforce Learning who is one of the primary instructors in the lab. “We want our students to be exposed to this kind of approach and for schools to replicate it. It’s organized, it’s efficient, and it provides the best learning experience possible in this discipline.”

“The better a lab is, the better students can perform, no matter their age,” he said. “And for me, I walk in every morning and it’s a great place to work, to teach, to learn.”

Sarah Arnold, a transfer student from Nevada, Mo., feels the same way.

“What drew me to this was the hands-on interaction with the various technologies,” she said. “I love the open space and flexible seating, because as a teacher that’s important for classroom management. And the tools and resources we have here are by far the most amazing I’ve seen.”

The lab is paying big dividends on the recruitment side.

“We have nearly doubled our enrollment in this program,” McKay said. “People walk in our door on a tour, or just pass by as part of an event, and literally say ‘Sign me up. I don’t know what this is, but I want to be here’.”