GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Greenville County Schools is looking to focus more on career education. Now, they are just seven months away from an innovation center that will introduce students to high-tech career opportunities in the automotive, IT, aerospace, and energy sectors. 

“I love to look at the notion that no matter the path a student takes after high school, they are all going to end up in a career,” Program Director Katie Porter said. “The more we can do while they are in high school, to expose them to how to problem solve, think analytically, and creatively, but use that to solve real-world problems. That is exactly what they are going to do at the innovation center.”

Looking to connect support and grow industries in South Carolina, Greenville County is the first to offer an emerging automotive research program in the state, and one of few that offers aerospace technology, emerging cybersecurity/networking, clean energy technology, and automation and robotics. 

“It absolutely gives South Carolina an edge,” Owner of Goodson’s Automation, Shan Smith said. “If we look back at when the technical school system started and why companies like BMW located here in the Upstate, it was because we have a skill-ready workforce. I think we will continue to build that with programs like this one.”

Some companies that will be involved say their main focus is education workforce development.

“I think by getting exposure to those jobs and getting training it is really going to inspire students to go into those and realize they can have fruitful careers that mean a lot to a lot of people and a lot of businesses.” South Carolina Council on Competitiveness, Director of SC Aerospace, Stephen Astemborski said.

While students will have the opportunity to learn in flexible spaces that mimic post-secondary education and the industry atmosphere. Greenville County Schools said its center is designed with adaptability in mind, as programs grow and economic needs shift.

“We know that as companies come here they check out our school system and they want to know that we are going to be able to provide them a pipeline of workers so that we can thrive here in the upstate,” Porter said.

Greenville County students in 10-12th grade are encouraged to apply. The application process will be competitive as the center will only hold 250 students.