Inside the Story: Students get new level of learning with hands-on program
Inside the Story: Students get new level of learning with hands-on program (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) A high school program in Park City is giving some serious hands-on experience for students by connecting them to the business world.

It's called the PCCAPS program, which stands for the Park City Center for Advanced Professional Studies.

"It's a project-based learning experience for students," said Danny Fisher, PCCAPS specialist.

Students in the program have helped design buildings, kids' toys, and more.

"I think it's a nice bridge between the educational world and what is so often quoted as 'the real world'--college and career," Fisher said.

One group of students also helped design a mobile classroom made out of a school bus for the Utah STEM Foundation.

"Students will be able to get onto the bus, and there will be a set curriculum," said Cole Steanton, one of the student designers. "They will be able to learn something that they might not be able to in their school."

The mobile classroom bus project started when UTA donated two buses to the Utah STEM Foundation.

The first bus, which is just about complete, was designed by an architecture company.

The students designed the second bus, along with mentors from VCBO Architecture in Salt Lake City. Together they came up with a design that would be practical, yet innovative.

"Instead of having something that stays on the bus permanently, we can have these interchangeable modules that can be interchanged easily without having to replace the entire bus," said Ishan Chho, another student designer.

Teachers in the PCCAPS program say mentors from the business community have really made a difference.

"The students build relationships with the mentors and some of them have even gotten an internship out of it," said Chris Humbert, a PCCAPS teacher.

Right now, there are five different classes in the PCCAPS program with more than 100 students enrolled, learning everything from engineering, design, to marketing.

"It just gives you an amazing experience that you don't get in normal school. You don't get to work for a company, you don't get to work in a group, for a team," said Natalie Haerter, a PCCAPS student.

Some of the projects made by students in the PCCAPS program won two out of three national Edison Universe awards.

The Utah STEM Foundation plans to have the first bus up and running across the state by the fall school year.

They are still waiting for funding in order to start building the second bus designed by the students.

For more information on the PCCAPS program, visit its website.

You can learn more about the Utah STEM Foundation and the STEM Action Center here.