Pictured above – Students listen to a guest speaker at a previous Governor’s School for Technological Innovation and Business Leadership on Tech’s campus

School to host both the Governor’s School for Technological Innovation and Business Leadership and the Governor’s School for Emerging Technologies

Cookeville – Around 70 rising high school juniors and seniors will call Tennessee Tech University home for several weeks this summer.

The university prepares to host both the Governor’s School for Technological Innovation and Business Leadership (GSTIBL) and the Governor’s School for Emerging Technologies (GSET). Governor’s Schools are funded by the state and each student selected receives a scholarship covering the full cost of tuition, housing and meals. Tech is one of three universities in the state to host multiple Governor’s Schools. 

Both Governor’s Schools at Tech begin June 4, but GSTIBL continues through July 1 and GSET concludes June 24. GSTIBL is led by the College of Business and GSET the College of Engineering in partnership with the College of Education, the College of Arts and Sciences and the Millard Oakley STEM Center.

According to Susan Wells, lecturer in the College of Business and director of GSTIBL, Governor’s Schools provide students with a unique advantage by allowing them to earn college credit and get a preview of the university experience while still in high school.

“They are actually enrolled in the university for four weeks,” said Wells. “They go to classes, they work on group projects, they meet with an industry person from the area who is their mentor, and we do fun events with them every evening and weekend.”

Wells, who has been involved with GSTIBL since its launch in 2000 and has served as its director for the last six years, explains that students at GSTIBL are tasked with creating a business plan for a technology-based product and working to conceptualize it over their time in the program – from marketing the product to researching who they’re going to hire and where it will be manufactured.

“They have to immerse themselves as if they were running a business for four weeks,” Wells said.

Chris Wilson, chair of the general and basic engineering department and co-director of GSET, said students can expect a challenging, engaging experience at his Governor’s Schoo.

He leads the program alongside Cory Gleasman, assistant professor in the College of Education.

“Each afternoon, the students work in research and development exploration groups,” explained Wilson. “There are five of them this year: one on green energy and wind turbine development, one on information technology and biology, one on data science and artificial intelligence, one on computational chemistry and one on high-performance computing.”

Wilson says that discussions on artificial intelligence chatbots like ChatGPT will feature prominently at GSET.

“The whole idea of emerging technologies is things that are disruptive in the sense that we’re doing new things,” he explained. “It’s something that causes enough of a change to the way we do things that it’s almost disruptive.”

Both Wilson and Wells see the Governor’s Schools as an opportunity to showcase Tech to some of the state’s top high school students.

“Part of my mission is to get them to come to Tech,” said Wells.

Wilson adds that students at GSET “get a chance to see how broad STEM programs are at Tech and how intertwined they are in the culture at Tech.”

“We have many former Governor’s School students who attend Tech,” said Wilson. “So, it’s great recruitment for us but, even when they go to other places, they take a little bit of Tennessee Tech with them.”

Both Governor’s Schools will feature guest speakers and off-campus excursions.

“I use a lot of people on campus who are in leadership roles,” said Wells of her plans for GSTIBL. “I bring in people who are successful businesspeople and those who are leaders on campus. A past favorite has been Dr. Charria Campbell (director of student engagement and intercultural affairs). Provost Lori Bruce does a great presentation and of course President Oldham typically comes and speaks. A lot of people pour into these kids while they are here.”

Wilson says students at GSET will take a trip to Oak Ridge National Laboratory, among other destinations.

“The amount of intellectual capability in these students is remarkable,” said Wilson. “These are very high-performing high school students. For me, helping them make pathways toward exploring STEM in college is something I find rewarding.”

To learn more about the Governor’s School for Technological Innovation and Business Leadership, visit https://www.tntech.edu/business/governors-school/. To learn more about the Governor’s School for Emerging Technologies, visit https://www.tntech.edu/engineering/pre-college-programs/gset.php/.

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