CORBIN -- Kentucky's Education Commissioner Dr. Wayne Lewis visited with students and staff at the Corbin Area Technology Center on Wednesday. Lewis and others from the Commonwealth toured the facility and got an in-depth and hands-on view of the programs offered.

Corbin Area Technology Center Principal Chris Smith welcomed the commissioner and the many others from the state who joined him early Wednesday morning to see and hear both the achievements as well as the needs of the Area Technology School.

After some brief introductions, Smith went right into the programs that were offered, project-based learning events and bragged on his staff. Local superintendents were on hand for the visit and each spent time talking with Lewis.

Programs offered within the ATC include: Engineering, Criminal Justice, Industrial Maintenance, EMT/EMS, Allied Health, Welding and Automotive.

On Wednesday, the EMT/EMS, Allied Health and Criminal Justice programs constructed a project-based learning event. Each year the programs join together to work with community organizations and get first-hand experience in a mock disaster scene that is set up on campus.

Smith said the programs use the older model vehicles that have been donated to the school and have exhausted their purposes for these mock disasters. Over the years several different scenarios have been set up with the cars, including a drinking and driving crash and a vehicle that has run through a crowd of people.

"When they do that they have local first responders including firefighters, city police, state police and county sheriff's office," said Smith. "The kids get to work with these professionals and we've gotten really good feedback from the professionals."

This is an excellent situation for students to see real-world skills and get their hands dirty in these mock scenarios. Smith said it really helps define some students' career decisions.

Students in the engineering department remodeled the school's bell system as well as a device for the vending machines.

Smith is extremely proud of his students which come from not only the Corbin Independent School District but also Williamsburg and Whitley County as well. He's also confident in the quality of his staff and said he's blessed to have them.

Smith spoke on his automative program and their partnerships with companies such as Toyota. Not leaving behind his staff, Smith bragged on teachers with nearly 20 years of experience as well as being masters in their fields. He went on to detail the certifications and achievements of most all his staffs members.

Smith bragged on engineering instructor Roger Taylor who graduated from the Naval Academy according to Smith. With one of the pathways being aeronautical, Taylor has a good background and is a fit for that.

Most recently in engineering, with a capstone project that gets evaluated by the University of Kentucky, students have the opportunity to get credit for Engineering 101 and 102.

Taylor's engineering class was the first stop on Commissioner Lewis's tour where he and students exchanged conversations about what led them to the class and what students had planned for their future.

Taylor also informed state officials about projects that were going on in the class and about the new Robotic arm the school just received.

Taylor noted that the one thing he hears most from industry executives is that graduates aren't problem solvers. When they can't fix something, they give up too fast. He is working with students to to hopefully reduce that issue.

Smith said the Corbin Area Technology Center has a good relationship with the commissioner.

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