The face of vocational education is changing, powered by the new tools of technology, but our objective remains the same: to teach students skills that can translate into successful careers.

Examples of vocational training at the high school level include:

Novell Computer Networking – the course teaches how to keep a network running smoothly and prepares students for the Novell Certified Networking Administrator (CNA) designation.

Cisco Regional Networking Academy – The Cisco program focuses on how to design, build and maintain a network. Richardson High School (RHS) is the first regional Networking Academy in Texas, supporting our three high schools plus seven other local academies.

Microsoft Office ’97 certification – Microsoft Office is both the industry and district standard. Students work through Beginning Office ’97 in grades 7-9, and Intermediate and Advanced Office ’97 in grades 10-12. Then they can become Microsoft Certified Users.

Sun Microsystems – We offer a preparatory Java Certification program and a Web Mastering course. Students may then apply for a Sun Microsystems Grant or perform student internships at local businesses. This year a RHS student intern designed the web page for Fossil Inc. Health Science Technology – A pilot program at RHS provides team teaching with a Baylor/Richardson Hospital Nurse and RISD Anatomy and Physiology Instructor.

The following offerings will be available to all secondary campuses by next fall: biotechnology; computer aided design in architecture; computer graphics; electricity and electronics; energy and power; environment and ecology; flight technology; laser mechanisms and robotics; rocketry and flight; tools and machines; transportation; and video production.

The emphasis in our Technology Education labs is on problem solving, teamwork and project management. Collaborative teams of students take a product from concept, through computer-aided design, create a prototype with robotics, develop business and marketing plans, then prepare advertising materials using desktop publishing.

Initial earning potential for students completing these programs varies from $15 to $20 per hour or $30,000 to $40,000 per year. Futurists are predicting top lifetime earning capability of $75,000 to $90,000 in technology-related professions.

Both of RISD’s 24 credit degree plans prepare students for college and 87 percent of our graduates go on to higher education. But we are providing a solid technology base for all students to be successful wage earners in the twenty-first century.