Originally, BCHS students would have had access to the same courses, but would not have been able to participate in added elements provided by Wacker Polysilicon North America.
Arlette Robinson, career and technical education director for Bradley County Schools, said recent changes to the program will allow both schools to benefit.
When the plan was originally presented to the board of education, Walker Valley had been the only Bradley County high school chosen to participate.
“It’s a very rigorous program,” Robinson said.
A student must have passed computer-aided drawing courses and have an ACT score of 19 to take the Chemistry 1010 and Math 171 courses. These courses are the second level of the program and will be completed during a student’s junior year. After completion of these courses students are eligible to complete the engineering computers course. This course is the one required to qualify for the Wacker Institute and will be taken in a student’s senior year.
Robinson said the top 15 students in this course at each school would be accepted.
These students will also be able to take CT 121 (chemical technology) with Wacker paying.
These students will be eligible for internships, mentoring opportunities, advisory support and scholarships provided by Wacker.
Many of the courses offered within the institute can count as college credit. Some of these classes will be taken at the school while others are only offered at Cleveland State Community College.
“We are going to start enrolling students in Chemistry 1010 and Math 1710 this fall,” Robinson said. ‘Those classes will be taken at Cleveland State.”
The school system has also secured a $90,000 Perkins grant for equipment and technology for teachers and students, so the engineering computers can be offered at the schools instead of at one of the community colleges. Although the grant was awarded in May, only 25 percent of it can be spent before October.
Robinson said the course would not be offered until the spring semester.
“This year we were really hoping to have chemical technology students by the spring semester,” Robinson said.
However, Robinson said this is not going to be possible.
“Chattanooga has expressed an interest in offering CT 121 for the summer,” Robinson said.
Robinson said other students not in the institute could take the course but they would have to pay for it.
“Basically, what we are trying to do is get this [potential] workforce,” prepared for the future, Robinson said.
She said the program lines up well with the career and technical program’s goal to provide relevance of subject matter.
“It’s relevant because it leads to jobs. It’s basically, ‘If you do this, this, and this, you will be accepted for an interview with Wacker, if you complete this and then complete the Wacker Institute,” Robinson said.
After completion of the high school program, these students will be able to attend the Wacker Institute at Chattanooga State Community College.
Robinson said there are a lot of sophomores and juniors interested in the program. Officials said students interested in the program or these classes should talk to their guidance counselor.