Written by Ed Ufford, Hanford High School technology education instructor

The Richland School District offers a number of technology education courses including metals, computer engineering, automotive technology, wood shop, computer aided design (CAD) and materials science. It’s critical that we maintain a quality vocational program at Richland and Hanford High Schools. Students learn valuable skills that can be used now and in the future. Many students tell me that these courses are the highlight of their school day.

The school district hires many of our computer engineering students to perform various networking and computer repair tasks. This saves the district thousands of dollars while providing the students with practical work experience.

Auto shop, woodworking and metals students learn practical, lifelong skills. They gain the confidence to do their own construction, maintenance and repair work instead of being at the mercy of a contractor. It is very liberating. Some go on to use these skills in their careers. Students who’ve taken high school vocational/trade classes have an advantage over those who haven’t when applying to the local labor unions.

Students with vocational classes on their transcripts earn more entry points on the union applications than a student with a high GPA who never set foot in a shop class. Our CAD classes are perfect for the budding engineer or those interested in architecture, building trades and graphic design. Just as math is a universal language, so are drafting and design. Students learn to convert ideas and visions into working drawings and representations. CAD students solve problems in the design phase before construction begins.