Lanier High launches P-Tech program with ACC and IBM


Want a technical degree and a job at IBM with your high school education? It may soon be possible in Austin.

At Lanier Early College High School Wednesday, the Austin Independent School District announced a new pipeline to get their students higher education degrees and into high demand jobs.

It’s a program already used in more than 100 schools nationwide called Pathways to Technology Early College High School, or P-TECH. Students in the program can earn a technology-focused associate’s degree for free. 

The goal is to prepare students for STEM careers — science, technology, engineering and math — recognizing that those students may not need a bachelor’s degree to fill the jobs their community needs.  

Lanier’s program will be one of the first P-Tech schools launching in Central Texas. It will open in the fall of 2019 for 50 freshmen students. Each year the program will add a new grade level of students. 

In addition to the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree while in high school, students will also have access to mentoring and paid internships through IBM.

Some students can complete this program by the time they graduate high school, but they have up to six years to finish all the requirements. Students who are able to finish in that time are guaranteed a job interview with IBM. 

Twenty-year-old Janiel Richards, a graduate of the Brooklyn P-Tech program, visited Lanier on Wednesday to talk about how it helped her pursue her goals. 

“I think it’s a great advantage that they offer to lower income students like myself and for people who it wasn’t as smooth sailing,” she said. ” I had a destination, I just didn’t have a vehicle, and  I think P-TECH was that vehicle for me.”

After graduating high school with her associate’s degree at age 18, she went to work for IBM, where she currently works. Richards hopes Austin students take advantage of the mentoring available through the P-Tech program. 

The funds for this program are provided from a $50,000 grant through the Texas Education Agency. 

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story indicated Lanier High was the first school in Texas to implement P-TECH, but that is not the case.

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