ABINGTON, Pa. — A robot cat and an autonomous vehicle are Joe Oakes' secret weapons. Last week's situation called for the Penn State Abington information sciences and technology faculty member to use them on 100 ninth-graders. Oakes' mission? Grab their attention so he could urge them to explore careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Mission: Accomplished.
Oakes visited the teens at an Abington Junior High School career forum.
"It's a scary thing making a career choice," he said, after explaining that his students re-engineered that cat to respond to commands and built the autonomous vehicle. "Get exposure to different careers. I went to diesel mechanic school in high school and I hated it. Don't think you can't make a change."
"It's a scary thing making a career choice. I went to diesel mechanic school ... and hated it. Don't think you can't make a change."
-- Joe Oakes, Penn State Abington faculty
"Like many of you I didn't know what I wanted to do, I started out at community college," he continued. "I paid my own way and you can do it, too, if you really want it."
The Penn State College of IST named Oakes its Statewide Instructor of the Year for the 2016-17 academic year. He is senior instructor and program chair for IST at Abington.