Opelika High School students tour Facilities' Utilities and Energy department

Published: May 13, 2021

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Students with the Opelika High School Career and Technical Education group recently toured facilities' Utilities and Energy to get a better grasp of what utility work at Auburn encompasses and to learn about different career opportunities at facilities.

The students spent the morning learning the ins and outs of utilities from Director Ken Martin, Assistant Director Malcolm Dailey and Supervisor David Howell, touring the chilled and hot water system plants as well as electrical and control rooms of Auburn Arena as part of their regular curriculum with the CTE program. They also heard career testimonials from Automotive Mechanic Lucy Kriel, HVAC Technician Clayton Howard and Howell, and a presentation showing career paths at facilities from facilities' Human Resources Senior Manager Loren Winn.

“The OHS Ready to Work students enjoyed visiting Auburn University,” said Katie Murray, career technical coordinator for Opelika City Schools. “They were excited to learn about the variety of employment opportunities available and the possibility of reduced tuition.”

Opelika High implemented the Ready to Work program during the 2019-20 school year. Students learn about different career paths through different CTE programs from industries in the area. The different pathways introduce students to a wide variety of career opportunities, whether planning for future college courses or heading straight into the workforce from graduation.

“Even with interruptions due to the pandemic, the class has been successful,” Murray said. “Students have had the opportunity to learn about multiple career pathways available to them if entering the workforce immediately following high school graduation, and we have had several students move into successful careers in manufacturing and technical fields.”

Auburn is the largest employer in Lee County and one of the largest employers in the state of Alabama with more than 5,300 full-time employees and 6,600 part-time, representing several different industries and skillsets.

Facilities is one of the most career-diverse sections of the university with employees representing different fields in every building, making it ideal for students to learn about many different fields they can be a part of.

Invited by Winn, the opportunity to host the students and their teachers represented a workforce development initiative for Facilities, a chance to show future graduates what Facilities has to offer.

“This project has a few goals: to give awareness of what our amazing facilities staff does each day to support Auburn University and the associated job opportunities and career paths, as well as build relationships with our community young people,” Winn said. “All of which are key to building a strong sustainable team for the future of Facilities.

“We will invite high schools from the surrounding counties as well as trade technical schools like Southern Union,” said Winn.

The High School Ready to Work program is an initiative of Birmingham-based staffing organization the Onin Group and AIDT, the state workforce development training agency.

Submitted by: Casper Wood