STEM Education: Prosser Advanced Technology Group

With the return of school, there’s also the return of an innovative program at Prosser Career Academy: The Advanced Technology Group.

The ATG started in 2007 to give students hands on experience with computers and information technology. At first, the program was simply fixing printers – but now the program has grown to include programming, robotics, sound equipment, and computer networking.

Prossner students showing off on of their robotic project

Last year’s leadership team gave a short presentation to Smart Chicago to talk about the program and how their work is helping to bridge the digital divide.

ATG acts as the IT help desk for Prosser Career Academy helping to support not only the school computers – but also the Prossner Public Computing Center.  The public computing center at Prossner serves the community by providing 150 computers that can be used by anyone. Prossner also has two mobile labs that can be set up for special events.

In addition to hardware support, the students also help the community by teaching digital skills. Last year, the ATG partnered with Wal-Mart to help potential job applications digitize their resume. This not only helps the community, but the students learn customer service and public speaking skills in the process.

The  most important thing that the Prossner program teaches is leadership. Unlike traditional technology programs, the ATG group is run like a corporation with students in key executive positions and are advised by CPS teacher Sebastian Seikowski. At the end of the year, the seniors pick the next leadership team.

ATG also has adult programs which help residents learn digital skills. Every Saturday, ATG holds structured classes on computer repair, information technology, and Microsoft certification. The program also attracts those who want to gain additional job skills.

Prossner also offers A+ Certification training.  A+ Certification is an entry level information technology test that’s an industry standard. Those with certifications generally can earn anywhere from a $45,000 – $70,000 job.

Prossner’s ATG group is supported by a number of entities including Chicago Public Schools and Lumity  – a non-profit that helps manage computer training centers.  Most of the equipment that the ATG used is donated.