The C.A.P.S. Program (Center for Advanced Professional Studies) was recently started in the Heber Valley to pair high school students with industry partners to work on real-world projects. There are five divisions of C.A.P.S.: Business, Marketing and Entrepreneurship; Digital Design and Software Development; Medicine and Health; Environment and Agriculture; and Engineering and Industrial Design. Each student is paired with a business in the community to work on a project in their division.
These projects range from mapping the Provo River using a drone to developing a foam knee brace for use in the world of physical therapy.
Innovation and Collaboration in Heber Valley
Many of the projects from C.A.P.S. this last year have been met with considerable success. One group in the Engineering and Industrial Design division was working with Rooftop Anchor, a company in town that designs and manufactures fall protection equipment. They designed an arch to go over roof hatches that allows for a worker climbing up the hatch to not have to disconnect from a fall-prevention cable as he reaches the top of the ladder.
My own experience with C.A.P.S. has been outstanding. I have had the pleasure of working with MIRO Industries, a local company that manufactures pipe braces and plumbing support mechanisms. The projects I have worked on in conjunction with MIRO Industries have given me a tremendous jump start into my postsecondary education and a career in the world of engineering.
Shaping Student Futures
My experience with C.A.P.S. has given me an abundance of workplace experience that I could never get outside of C.A.P.S. at such a young age. In helping to develop several new products for MIRO Industries, I have worked closely with the chief officers, engineers, marketing specialists, sales managers, logistical experts and assembly technicians at MIRO.
Additionally, I have met with a few dozen people outside of MIRO to launch some of these products, including mold-makers, professors of engineering and chemistry, CEOs of plastic forming companies, and experts in many other industries. Also, MIRO Industries sponsored me to attend the Fabrication Technology (FABTECH) trade show twice, once in Chicago and once in Las Vegas, where I was exposed to the latest and greatest in the world of manufacturing technology. All of these experiences have given me very intimate exposure to a number of technical disciplines that are related to Engineering and Industrial Design, and the exposure is at a depth and to an extent that could never be achieved in the classroom.
A Competitive Edge
In addition to being an excellent learning experience for me, C.A.P.S. has allowed me to successfully compete in a number of competitions that have bolstered my resume considerably and given me many financial tools to help pay for college. I entered one of the projects we had been working on into the Central Utah S.T.E.M. Fair where I won the I.S.W.E.E.E.P. Traveler Award. This allowed me to compete in the International Sustainable World Energy/Engineering/Environment Project Olympiad in Houston, Texas.
There, I received a silver medal and a scholarship to the university of my choice. I also used this project for the state SkillsUSA (VICA) competition, where my team won first place. We were partially sponsored to attend the National SkillsUSA competition where we won second place. Each member of my team received $2,000 worth of engineering software and special computer drafting equipment.
The projects I worked on in C.A.P.S. were a huge help for me in the Sterling Scholar competition, where I won in the North-Eastern Utah division in the Science category. I entered the Agricultural Science Fair through the Future Farmers of America (FFA) program with one of the projects I have worked on for MIRO and won in my division with that project, and it will be advanced on to the National Agricultural Science Fair this fall.
From High School Grad to Intern
My experiences with C.A.P.S. have allowed me to roll right out of high school and into a paid internship where I work full-time at MIRO as a product developer. I am now working on, among other things, a rooftop paver. This is essentially a large square made of reground, environmentally-friendly plastics on which pipes can be mounted. I have to engineer the component, make the data sheets and create a business plan on how we are to launch this product. Just out of high school, I am doing the same type of work that I thought I would have to wait half a dozen years to do.
The things I have learned, the experiences I have had and the people I have met through C.A.P.S. are far and away the most valuable things I have gleaned from my high school experience.