SYRACUSE — Alan Tehan has been described as a “visionary.” He is thinking years ahead and instead of thinking of all the reasons something can’t be done, he focuses on how he can make things happen.
Tehan has been actively involved in some of the career and technical education programs offered through the Pathways Cooperative based at Wawasee High School. As owner of Technical Services, a company doing contract engineering work in Syracuse, he has the resources and facilities to help train high school students to be ready to enter the workforce as soon as they graduate.
In late June, the school board of the Wawasee Community School Corporation approved the sale of the buildings Tehan owns on Sycamore Street in Syracuse to the school corporation. The office building closest to the street will be used as the central office for the school corporation and the other two buildings, one of which is attached to the office building, will be leased back to Technical Services “and we will continue to do contract engineering work,” Tehan said.
But in addition to Technical Services continuing to operate, eventually there will be more of a presence of Pathways programs. It should be emphasized it could be a few years before this becomes a reality. James Flecker, director of personnel and legal services for WCSC, termed it a likely five-year plan.
The super mileage car and engineering program will likely be moved into the building, which is a logical assumption considering Tehan and his staff have the engineering know how.
About 10 to 12 years ago, Tehan was asked to help with designing electronic fuel injection systems for the super mileage cars in order to make them more competitive. He also helped with engine calibration, getting smaller engines and new components and also the coding.
Tehan envisions an expansion of the super mileage car program, which currently operates in limited space in the wing built just a few years ago at the high school.
He would also like to see something similar to a Venture program implemented. Venture is used at Rose Hulman, MIT and Stanford and is a commercial facility apart from the campus where engineers contract to help projects get done and students are integrated into the projects.
Flecker said in conjunction with Venture, a makerspace would be involved and could be a wide open facility with smaller shops inside. If someone has an ideal to build something, they use the makerspace to make it happen with help from experienced people. Tehan termed it a “kind of overgrown hobby shop.”
Another possibility is a comprehensive electronics program where students are taught how to design, build and program circuit boards. Coding is already being taught to even elementary students in Wawasee schools. “All of the electronics you have in your home have circuit boards in them,” Tehan said.
He has agreed to help Wawasee schools with technology and learning and the school corporation values his knowledge and expertise because it is anticipated the Pathways Cooperative will continue to grow. Welding is already at full capacity, a health sciences education program will begin with the 2018-19 school year and more schools could join the cooperative.
Tehan said schools are in the training business and can teach creativity. He believes it is important to have technical, hands-on type training “because some students learn better that way” and don’t need to go to college. “We have 11 acres here and we’re only using 3 and it is within walking distance of the high school campus,” he said.
It will take planning, money and available instructors to make all of this happen, but Tehan is committed to doing his part to make it happen.