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How GO CAPS Provides Hands-On Education for Springfield Students

GO CAPS gives southwest Missouri students the chance to test-run their career plans before committing to a full-time job or college degree program.

By Tessa Cooper

Nov 2019

Education graphic
GO CAPS is providing a students a hands-on approach to finding their desired career paths.

By the time Westin Easley and Tanner Hartman graduated high school, their resumes stood out from their peers. While their friends were sitting in class, Easley and Hartman were both gaining on-the-job experience and skills learning about the mechanics of engineering and manufacturing.

Both southwest Missouri students participated in Greater Ozarks Centers for Advanced Professional Studies (GO CAPS) programs, and their career paths are forever changed.

Tanner Hartman
Photo courtesy Tanner Hartman

Tanner Hartman is a sophomore studying mechanical engineering at the University of Arkansas and hopes to work in the engineering field upon graduation.

Westin Easley
Photo by Brandon Alms

Westin Easley landed a job at SRC after his GO CAPS experience. He graduated in 2017.

GO CAPS is a profession-based learning program where students learn from local businesses and test out their future career plans while earning high school credit. Local school districts cover the program’s tuition. Students can choose from medicine and healthcare, business and entrepreneurship, IT and software solutions, teacher education, or engineering and manufacturing courses. For both Easley and Hartman, the choice was easy. They knew they wanted to learn more about engineering and manufacturing. For 2.5 hours, five days a week, the two reported to SRC’s logistics center and discovered more and more about this fascinating career field. During the program, Easley and Hartman got the chance to job shadow professionals and tour local engineering and manufacturing facilities.

Hartman, a 2018 Nixa graduate, had his eyes set on his future when enrolling in the program. Now a sophomore studying mechanical engineering at the University of Arkansas, he hopes to work in the engineering field upon graduation. He credits his GO CAPS experience with affirming his degree choice.

“If you put more effort into learning about something and being better at something, the results will show.”
— Tanner Hartman, 20

“I’ve always had the idea of engineering in my mind as a career goal,” Hartman says. Thanks to encouragement from his high school counselor, he applied and got accepted into the program. During his second semester in GO CAPS, he got the chance to job shadow professionals at John Deere Reman and ESC Engineering.

“One thing that really came to my mind in the GO CAPS program is that from high school on in your career, you’re going to get out of it what you put into it,” Hartman says. “If you put more effort into learning about something and being better at something, the results will show.”

Tanner Hartman and his GO CAPs group at the Springfield Power Plant
Photo courtesy Tanner HartmanTanner Hartman (center, in the light blue shirt and red hat) and his GO CAPs group at the Springfield Power Plant.

Hartman spent last summer completing an internship at Miller Engineering, a structural and forensic engineering firm in Springfield. He landed the internships thanks to the Bridge the Gap scholarship, an opportunity that he learned about through GO CAPS. “GO CAPS also taught me how many opportunities there are around Springfield,” he says. “This area is phenomenal for business and select career paths right now. It’s definitely a hot spot for engineering.”

The experience through GO CAPS doesn't always solidify a student's predetermined plans. Easley is a 2017 Parkview High School graduate. He completed his job shadowing program at SRC Heavy Duty, where he organized shop tools and parts. His GO CAPS experience resulted in a unique outcome and realization. After getting connected to SRC Reman through his job shadowing GO CAPS experience, Westin got a full-time job at the remanufacturing facility.

“It was quite a bit of change going from working your typical high schooler job to then stepping into a bigger role at a manufacturing plant like that.”
— Westin Easley, 20

“It was quite a bit of change going from working your typical high schooler job to then stepping into a bigger role at a manufacturing plant like that,” Easley says. “I was always used to having a set job where you knew what to do every day you came into work, and your boss would tell you what to do. It was a big change going from that to having to find problems and issues within the plant and solving them on my own.”

During his time at SRC, Easley found mentors and learned what it takes to succeed in the remanufacturing field. He still works at SRC Heavy Duty today, but has since realized that his passions lie more in photography. Luckily, SRC Reman fully supports Easley’s new career goal and has even invested in camera equipment so he can create content for marketing purposes.

Whatever the outcome for GO CAPS students, the program stands as a way for students to dip their toes in their future career interests. After all, trial and error are two of the hallmarks of high school.

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