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Steve Ford

Steve Ford leads business leaders and legislators on a tour of the STEM labs last year.

Columbia High School offers a variety of STEM courses set in renovated labs with state-of-the-art equipment. We spoke with Career and Technology Education Chairperson Steve Ford about the STEM program and how it helps prepare students for the future.

Why has there been such an emphasis on STEM in recent years?
The changing economy and today’s job market have shown that there is a lack of individuals with the type of education and skills required to meet the demands of businesses. An emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math is an effort to prepare students for careers that are in demand currently and in the future.

What is the advantage of taking STEM courses in high school?
STEM courses at the high school level are designed to give students an opportunity to explore potential careers and make choices that can lead to lucrative and rewarding careers. STEM courses can prepare students for college by giving them needed skills so they can be successful in their chosen pathways.

3-D printer

A student works with a 3-D printer in one of the STEM labs.

How do our classes prepare students for college and careers?
Our students are in a competitive world. Students from other high schools are entering college and trade schools with practical experience in AutoCAD, Robotics, Engineering, Automated Manufacturing, and IT training. At East Greenbush we are attempting to provide our students with the skill sets that will allow them to be on par with students from other districts.

How have Columbia’s new labs improved STEM education?
We have seen a big change with the contents of these rooms. They currently hold five 3-D printers, automated manufacturing equipment, robotic and computer kits, state of the art presentation devices, engineering and design supplies such as gears, pulleys, and motors and software to allow students to create projects that give them hands-on experience for real world situations. Columbia offers both a science-based and skills-based STEM program.

What should students do if they are interested in a STEM course?
Talk to their guidance counselor and get enrolled in an Engineering, Technology or IT class. There is a high demand for these classes and only so many available slots so it is important that they pursue these courses early on in their high school career.