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P-Tech Helps Allegany County Students and Businesses Prosper in Tech

Posted on 4/12/2024

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 |  3 min. read

In Its Seventh Year, the Vocational Program Welcomes Graduates and Shares Successes

Two P-Tech interns and one supervisor stand in front of the seal of Allegany County, Maryland.
The Allegany County Government welcomed two P-Tech interns, Nathan McKenzie (left) and Jaden Rosales (center), under the supervision of John Blank (right), a former P-Tech graduate now employed by the Allegany Government.

In its seventh year, the Pathways in Technology Early College High (P-Tech) program has empowered high school students to attain cybersecurity degrees alongside real-life work experience. With eleven alumni and another twelve students set to graduate this May, the program is forging a pipeline of skilled cybersecurity workers in Allegany County. This initiative aims to bolster Western Maryland as an up-and-coming technology-centered region.

Allegany County Public Schools (ACPS) and the Western Maryland IT Center of Excellence (IT Center) established the program in 2017. It is one of the seven P-Tech programs currently established in Maryland.

Two supervisors and one intern stand outside of a brick building
P-Tech intern Owen Llewellyn (center) stands alongside his supervisors Jesse Ketterman (left) and Jessica Mellon (right) at the Maryland 4H Extension Office.

Autumn Becker, Executive Director at the IT Center, emphasizes, “Our local business partners—including IBM, Provision, Allegany County government, and First United Banking Trust—told us they urgently needed a career pipeline that would help them build a skilled workforce.” She shares, “Seven years into the program, we’re really starting to see the pipeline come to reality and P-Tech graduates entering the workplace.”  

Through the program, high school students can embark on a four-, five-, or six-year pathway toward a career in cybersecurity. The most rigorous path allows students to graduate with dual degrees: their high school diploma and a two-year associate’s degree in cybersecurity. To date, all graduated P-Tech students have been able to gain employment in Allegany County or have gone on to pursue further education, several of which have chosen Frostburg State University (FSU). 

P-Tech intern poses with two-thumbs-up next to their internship supervisor in a white room
At Allegany College of Maryland, Norrin Frazier (right) undertook an internship in the school's web services department, mentored by Nick Taylor (left).

Jointly funded by the State of Maryland and the Allegany County Public School System, P-Tech is a free program that keeps career learning opportunities accessible for all students. “P-Tech opens up the opportunities for a college degree to all sorts of students, regardless of their income level or academic ability when they begin the program,” explains Becker.

Allegany County is the only rurally-located P-Tech campaign in Maryland. The county hopes the P-Tech program will provide local youth with early exposure and education to support them in finding viable cybersecurity jobs. Becker notes, “One thing that a lot of rural counties struggle with is ‘brain drain’—some of our biggest and brightest go off to earn their degrees elsewhere. By training our talent here in Allegany County, we hope to increase their chances of staying and seeking employment in this area.” 

“By training our talent here in Allegany County, we hope to increase their chances of staying and seeking employment in this area.” - Autumn Becker, Executive Director at the IT Center.
Three P-Tech interns stand outside of a brick building that hosts the offices where they interned.
P-Tech students Nathan Ellsworth (left), Levi Wiseman (middle), and Alysa Langan (right) interned with lawyers in Maryland.

As a foundational requirement of the program, students must complete an internship during the summer before their last academic year. ACPS connects P-Tech students with a business in Allegany County that either centers on information technology or has an IT-focused division or project. 

From supporting day-to-day IT professionals at Willets Technology, Inc. and UPMC Western Maryland to creating cloud file systems at the Maryland Defense Attorney, P-Tech interns have been placed across the county in various industries to gain valuable real-world skills that capstones their experience. 

P-Tech intern and their supervisor at Willets Tech stand in front of the Willets Tech logo
P-Tech student, Grant Nies (right), interned with local tech group Willets Technology, Inc. under the supervision of Amy Cites (left).
“Our partners have been encouraged by the steady pipeline of students graduating. We hope this gives new or expanding businesses confidence that there is a growing workforce here in Allegany County.” - Autumn Becker, Executive Director at the IT Center.

“Before our students are ready to manage systems, it is important to build a wide range of tech and professional skills through classwork and their internships.” Becker adds, “We’re always looking to add new partners to the program and help expand the possibilities for students and our local businesses.”

The internship experience gives students an entryway to a business that can make onboarding to a full-time position easier for both entities. “The students understand your culture and expectations because they've obviously worked for you previously. It’s a huge benefit of the experience,” shares Becker.

Two P-Tech interns stand in front of the Allegany Board of Education Sign
Allegany Public Schools took on two P-Tech interns, Coltin Morris (left) and Logan Blank (right).

P-Tech is one of the many initiatives propelling the tech industry in Western Maryland. The IT Center has also built a robust network of tech employers now connected to Allegany County, the Chamber of Commerce, and other support organizations that can propel their growth in the region. The IT Center also plans to host another Tech at the Gap conference to help develop the tech community and congregate employers, professionals, students, and other organizations. 

“We really want to put Western Maryland on the map as a tech-ready region, and I think we are well on our way,” finishes Becker.

Read our blog for more workforce development stories throughout Allegany County.

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