“I’ve had a hand in developing some pretty good talent and helping to put them on a career path,” said Bowsher High School electronics instructor Louis Jiménez.
The 62-year old Navy veteran has taught as a master training specialist in anti-submarine warfare in San Diego. He’s spent several years making good money for General Electric Aerospace in Syracuse, NY. He’s also taught Spanish naval officers and technicians in Rota, Spain.
But Jiménez seems to get no greater satisfaction than seeing his Bowsher High School students succeed in a grueling electronics program he researched and designed from scratch at the request of his TPS career-technical education supervisor a few years ago. A previous program at Woodward High School had gone dormant—so Jiménez had to go there every day after school for seven months to salvage leftover electronics equipment.
“The possibilities and capabilities of our students are exponential. The career opportunities are expanding across every level in every field,” he explained. “We have an electronics infrastructure that is global now. We’re developing a dichotomy out there where knowledge and technology are expanding—and there are people who can do it and those who wish they could.”
Jiménez was honored by the Electronics Technicians Association-International (ETA-I) as the organization’s recipient of the Wallace Medeiros Memorial Educator of the Year Award two years ago for his dedication to his students. 20 juniors and 20 seniors are currently enrolled in the program.
In his Electronics Tech Prep I and II at Bowsher, juniors and seniors learn about parallax robots, parallax training programming, and earn certifications that include ETA-I’s Certified Electronics Technician (CET) and Student Electronics Technician (SET), as well as OSHA Career Safe, Webxam and Tooling U certifications. They create exciting student projects that have involved equipment repair, plasma arcs, wireless power transmission and laser guitar pickups.
“We have all of these great programs junior and senior years that allow students to develop a career and get college credit for it,” he said. “They can get their technical skills and their educational skills as well. The possibilities are endless.”
Jiménez spent a lot of time researching what other electronics programs offered students with the desire to make his state-of-the-industry. He ended up patterning the program after a similar one he found in Cleveland at the Polaris Career Center.
“I wanted to see what training programs were out there and model mine after the best ones out there so it would accomplish its goals,” he said.
Jiménez only taught Andrew Alvarez during his senior year, but the Bowsher graduate was accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the most rigorous college programs in the country. At the time, Alvarez told 13-abc he only applied to MIT on a lark and “for bragging rights.”
Another former student is now studying abroad after mastering the Japanese language alongside his electronics coursework. For his senior project, Alex Mattoni built what he called a “carputer” which he installed in his old BMW: a microprocessor/microcomputer that is controlled by a touchpad.
“I’ve had a hand in developing some pretty good talent and helping to put them on a career path,” he said.
Junior students are introduced to basic electronics concepts, circuit construction and analysis used in the new technology oriented security industry. As seniors, they gain a more comprehensive knowledge of analog and digital electronics concepts using the latest in electronic circuit design software. They also learn troubleshooting techniques for
all manner of sophisticated electronics including microprocessor and robotics technologies.
Even before they graduate, students in the program find that the training makes them strong candidates for jobs in the electronics industry. After completing the program, students are ready for entry-level technical positions anywhere in the world.
“The tests are very, very hard and the program is demanding. It has what is referred to as ‘rigor.’ These are industry-level exams, not just high school or college,” said Jiménez. “You’d think they’d do some college before this. It’s tough and demanding, but the rewards are great.”
Jiménez recently submitted an article to The High-Tech News, an industry publication edited by ETA-I, about a third former student. Stefan Bumpus-Barnett never had to go to college, because he was the first student in the program to satisfy all the requirements to become a Certified Electronics Technician, the equivalent of an associate’s degree—while still in high school. Bumpus-Barnett now earns more than $30 per hour as an industrial/biomedical electronics technician in New York state.
“Career-technical education is at the heart of today’s high-tech, high-skill global economy,” said Jiménez. “For America to remain economically competitive, our next generation of leaders, the students of today, must develop the critical reasoning, problem-solving, teamwork and collaboration skills that will help make them the most powerful and productive in the world.”
TPS currently offers open enrollment for the Bowsher H.S. electronics program, but the transportation to campus is up to the individual family involved.
“That is a problem at this point,” he said.
If voters pass a levy or another funding source is found, part of the district’s transformation plan is to offer a career-technical education specialty at each high school with open enrollment—and TPS will bus students to the school of their choice. That could lead to even more young minds for Jiménez to mold into high-tech superstars.
“Over the last four years, we’ve been either nationally or internationally recognized.”
So why did Jiménez get into teaching after his military service turned into a lucrative career in the private sector? He was traveling and working all the time—and wanted to have summers off.
Now the career-technical instructor of Mexican-American descent is giving teenagers a better future through electronics.
“They didn’t have anything like this when I was growing up,” he said.