The model program started by The AED Foundation at Gage Park High School in Chicago continues to thrive and demonstrate to other school systems the value of technical education at the high school level.
Concerned about the shortage of skilled workers facing the construction equipment industry, The AED Foundation convinced the Chicago Public Schools eight years ago to open an Equipment & Technology Institute at Gage Park, with the Foundation and local equipment dealers as partners.
Starting as sophomores, students take courses in engine technology, hydraulics and electronics and must achieve high standards in these and their academic courses.
Gage Park graduates 43 students from its fourth Institute class this month, with 11 of them receiving special honors from The AED Foundation for completing additional work.
More than 250 students have completed the program since 1997, and have caught the attention of school system administrators by consistently outperforming most of their senior classmates. Many of them go from this inner city Chicago high school to four-year college programs in engineering, manufacturing and business, or to two-year technology
programs. One graduate is employed as a service technician at the Caterpillar dealer in the Chicago area.
Other industries are now sponsoring similar specialty institutes at Chicago public schools, and administrators from several states are considering similar programs.
This program is made possible by the support of industry investors in The AED Foundation.