Spotlight: Zwiercan writes new curriculum for CTE statewide

In January 2018, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) came to San Jacinto College looking for someone to contribute to a new innovative course in instrumentation and electrical.

Joseph Zwiercan volunteered to help and now thanks to his hard work, students at Pasadena Independent School District’s Career and Technical High School (CTHS) will be able to reap the benefits of the brand-new course.

“I have never worked with TEA before and the entire process was unfamiliar to me,” said Zwiercan. “I’m proud of the work we accomplished to make this opportunity possible for high school students.”

Within the TEA and across the U.S., there are 16 recognized career clusters including agriculture, food and natural resources, health science, and information technology. These are broad groups of careers and industries created to organize career and technical education programs.

“The TEA recognized the need to add an energy cluster in our state,” said Laura Torres, TEA statewide career and technical education coordinator. “We started looking for help creating an instrumentation course for this new cluster along gulf coast. At first, we had a lot of interest, but Joe is the only one who stuck with us throughout the entire process.”

The two-year process included identifying the types of oil and gas careers to target and building the curriculum from the ground up. The curriculum was based on similar colleges courses but needed to be adapted to a middle and high school level.

“I had to break down what was appropriate for math and science and what their knowledge of equipment might be,” Zwiercan said. “I had to take all of the college language out of the courses and think of the education level of a 14 or 15-year-old.”

The new innovative course will be offered at CTHS as a level 2 energy cluster course during the 2020-2021 school year. Any high school can pick up the course to add to their curriculum pending board approval.