Technological Education graduate helps students rock robotics competition

Corey Lehman works with a student on the Rick Hansen Secondary School robotics team Theory6.

Corey Lehman works with a student on the Rick Hansen Secondary School robotics team Theory6.

If you ask Corey Lehman, he may just tell you that he teaches the coolest subject offered at Rick Hansen Secondary School in Mississauga: Robots.

While the class is technically called Manufacturing Technology, Lehman, a recent Brock technological education graduate (TCTD ’12), has enjoyed teaching the complexities of a subject that goes beyond just “shop class.”

“At most schools (manufacturing technology) means machine shop,” he said. “However, at Rick Hansen Secondary School … it is a specialist high skills major program.”

Specialist high skills major programs let students focus on a career path that matches their skills and interests while meeting the requirements of the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD).

Teaching the course also gave Lehman the chance to be the lead mentor of the school’s robotics team – one that joined forces with a team in Texas to win the FIRST Robotics Championships in St. Louis last month.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded in the U.S. in 1989 to inspire and mentor young people in science, engineering and technology.

Lehman, a former tool and die maker, and welder, began his involvement with the Rick Hansen robotics team, Theory6, during his second teaching practicum last year and hasn’t looked back.

“It was the middle of the robotic team’s build season and I offered to help mentor in the machine shop,” he said. “A couple of weeks later and I was hooked. I travelled all over North America with the team and had quite the positive experience.”

So when the opportunity to work at Rick Hansen arose, Lehman jumped at it.

“I never could have seen myself teaching robotics,” he said. “Now that I am, I know it is the right career path for me.”

Lehman not only has the knowledge to help his students achieve greatness, he also knows when to sit back and let them take the lead.

With 85 students on the RHSS robotics team, Lehman said he prefers to simply facilitate the process, allowing the students to plan, design, build and program the robot. Students are able to learn the most this way, he said.

Such programs offer experience and skills that continue to prepare the next generation of students for the proverbial real world.

“FIRST Robotics gives students a chance to work together in real world situations,” he said. “They learn time management, how to communicate effectively with others, budgeting, design process, networking, building (and) hands-on skills and confidence.”

And much like those who taught Lehman during his time in the technological education program, he feels the same pride seeing his students succeed.

“I am so very proud of my students and truly feel they deserve everything they achieved this year.”

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