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Professionals encourage students to dream big

By BY CAROLINA ASTRAIN - CASTRAIN@VICAD.COM
Jan. 23, 2013 at 10:05 p.m.
Updated Jan. 23, 2013 at 7:24 p.m.

Victoria Independent School District students react to robots that shot toy balls at one another at the Dream Big STEM Expo.

Gasps and awes were exchanged between students as they watched a battle between two robotic beasts.

The tiny bots were controlled by a Victoria school district teacher and a student volunteer.



Shortly after the battle, the robotics teacher explained the steps required for admission into his class.

And across the walkway, firefighters, photographers and police officers did the same.

The career expo, Dream Big STEM, aimed at exposing students to career tracks in their own backyard.

"I want to be a firefighter or engineer," said 13-year-old Stroman Middle School student, Kianna Bell. "Anything that helps other people."

The career fair was a collaborative effort by the Victoria Business and Education Coalition, Victoria College, University of Houston-Victoria, VISD, and area groups and businesses.

Student groups rotated between 15-minute presentations by Caterpillar, INVISTA, Alcoa and Formosa Plastics.

For some students, this was their first time learning about what their local manufacturing giants produce.

At the Caterpillar demonstration, workers assured students that whether they earn a college degree or not, a career track would be available to them.

A Caterpillar spokeswoman said the company does not release salary ranges for employees.

"I'm leaning toward Caterpillar right now," said 14-year-old Andrew Browning. "I help make a lot of holes in my backyard, so I think I'd be a good fit."

Stroman Middle School special education teacher Brenda Ward said eighth-grade is the time when students start thinking about what they want to do after high school.

"I'm always telling them that they're welcome to stay after school, so I can help them with their scholarship applications," Ward said. "This event will help them make the decisions they need to make about their future."

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