The Center for Advanced Technical Studies (The Center) hosted visiting researcher Chizuru Ishimine, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Child Care and Education at Kokusai Gakuin Saitama College in Saitama, Japan.

She has been researching the Southern Regional Education Board’s High Schools That Work program for ten years. More recently, she has focused on their Advanced Career programs as she completed her doctoral degree. The Center was the first site in the nation to adopt the Advanced Career Clean Energy Technology (CET) curriculum and one of two schools Ishimine visited during her trip to the United States.

“We had the honor of hosting Chizuru Ishimine from Japan at The Center to review the programs offered and the overall school operations,” said Director Dr. Bob Couch. “She shared the instructional strategy that is used in a Japanese classroom that is similar to the approach at The Center. Students are involved in project-based type learning where the students engage in small groups to solve problems then share their findings with class members. Her main focus was on the Southern Regional Education Board’s Advanced Career programs and the one at The Center offered in Clean Energy Technology.”

The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and the state of South Carolina developed the CET curriculum as part of a multi-state effort to improve career and technical education in the country. In partnership with industry leaders, SREB created curriculum in each state in their consortium for growing fields based on industry needs. South Carolina led the effort for Clean Energy Technology. Since the program’s inception, The Center has had a productive relationship with SREB in helping develop the Advanced Career CET pathway.

“I’ve researched this program for five years and I want some information about what happens in real classroom situations,” said Ishimine. “I’m visiting The Center to observe Mr. Smallwood’s class, ask them questions, and talk with his students.”

Ishimine was able to sit in on a day of CET classes at The Center led by instructor Patrick Smallwood.

“SREB asked if we would host Chizuru for a visit because she is looking at educational reform in Japan, specifically at the Advanced Career pathways that SREB has,” said Smallwood.

Ishimine observed classes, spoke with students, and learned about their recent projects. Students are currently in either course two, Clean Energy Applications, or course four, Clean Energy Innovations, of the four course program. In Clean Energy Applications, students presented geothermal projects in which they cooled model houses geothermally and showed their data acquisition process. Students in Clean Energy Innovations presented their independent research projects. As the final course in the program, this advanced level class allows students to design and develop their own research ideas.