Westchase District straddles the line between Alief Independent School District (AISD) and Houston Independent School District (HISD). The dividing line is Westheimer. That means residents of the 59 apartment and townhome communities in Westchase District that are located south of Westheimer are eligible to enroll their high students in Alief’s brand-new Center for Advanced Careers at 12160 Richmond Avenue. The 235,000 square-foot facility can accommodate up to 2,500 students and will house career and technical education programs such as advanced audio/video production, auto tech, culinary arts, health sciences, robotics, welding, engineering, HVAC training and more.
The center also will host events and professional learning opportunities for AISD employees and will host tours for intermediate and middle school students so they may see first-hand the opportunities that await them.
Pathways to profitable careers
Designed by PBK Architects, the center was made possible by voter approval of the $341 million bond referendum in May 2015. This new center will give students a chance to earn certifications in many academic areas that were all made possible through the passage of HB5 by the Texas Legislature in 2015. The bill provides students a chance to choose an endorsement area of their choice for their high school years.
“For decades, high school students were all taught the same way, as if all of them were heading to a four-year university,” said HD Chambers, AISD superintendent. “Study after study shows that not all students are meant to attend a four-year university and that, through these endorsement areas, students may pursue a career of their choice and not just be conformed into a one-size-fits-all approach that was mandated by the state for decades. This facility will provide our students with even more opportunities for success after graduating high school.”
Some of the programs at the center will begin with sophomore students while others will start with juniors and seniors. All first level courses will still be housed on the district’s three traditional high school campuses (Elsik, Hastings and Taylor).
“I’m looking forward to watching our students learn advanced level skills using state-of-the-art equipment and materials while also having the opportunity to put their knowledge to the test with the programs open to the community,” said Jennifer Baker, director of career and technical education. “Students in the automotive, veterinary tech and culinary arts programs will offer services to community members and be able to experience real world situations.”
High-tech, high-wage skills
Participating students take first- or second-level courses at their home campuses and then complete advanced courses at the center in the following programs:
Advanced Architectural Design – Students learn to use industry standard software to create designs, drawings, renderings and scaled models and can earn Auto Desk Revit and AutoCAD certifications.
Automotive Technology – Working in a 23,000 square-foot lab with 18 service bays, students perform minor car maintenance such as alignments, oil changes and brake jobs on vehicles and can earn Automotive Service Excellence certifications.
Construction Technology – Coursework includes basic construction practices, framing and finishing as well as mill and cabinetmaking. Students can pursue certifications in the areas of NCCER and OSHA.
Culinary Arts – Students will have the chance to show their skills to the public through a restaurant which is open to the public and can also earn their ServSafe certification.
Digital Design – Using state-of-the-art laboratories featuring built-in sound booths and a control room, students will be able to obtain industry-recognized Adobe certifications through courses in audio/video production, graphic design and commercial photography.
Health Science – In partnership with West Houston Hospital, which is located across the street from the center, students will practice their skills in real-world settings to earn certifications as pharmacy technicians and certified nursing assistants.
Industrial Robotics – Students interested in manufacturing careers will learn how to program the FANUC robotic arm and work towards the Certified Production Technician credential.
Information Technology – Students will learn skills in computer maintenance, networking and cyber security with opportunities for industry recognized certifications.
Veterinary Science – Beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, students will learn veterinary practices for large and small animal species and may earn veterinary technician certifications.
Welding – In a laboratory with 20 welding booths, students use hand tools, power machines and the latest welding equipment to practice welding processes and earn qualifications to take industry certification tests.
For more information about the Center for Advanced Careers, or to schedule a tour, call 281-498-8110.