UVU/MTECH K-16 Alliance Counselor Conference hosted actor John Ratzenberger as one of the keynote speakers on Oct. 25. Most known for his voiceover in Pixar movies and playing Cliff Clavin in the TV-sitcom Cheers, Ratzenberger is also known for promoting the need for vocational education.

CTE programs are designed to meet the country’s educational and skill needs. These programs are designed to create an educational environment that combines core academics with real-world application.

Last October, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert declared 2018 as The Year of Career and Technical Education in Utah. The Year of Career and Technical Education is going to focus on key initiatives to make technical education programs more accessible to students.

Chiu also highlighted that Ratzenberger, during his keynote speech, addressed the need to raise the next generation to be problem solvers and critical thinkers.

Because Ratzenberger comes from a working class family, he explained that he knows how important such jobs are for the economy and how fulfilling they can be. He also emphasized that these jobs are not simply blue collar jobs, but that they are essential and that the youth have to fill these fundamental positions in society.

“I loved the speaker.  He was funny, interesting and really put a different spin on CTE than I’ve had before.  I loved how he explained essential workers and how they are most important.  I have a greater appreciation for CTE areas after listening to him,” said Chiu.

While at UVU, Ratzenberger also visited the UVU Fire and Rescue Academy and watched students put out a demonstration fire. He also took the opportunity to get behind the controls of a flight simulator at the aviation program located at the Provo Airport.

Students also discussed concurrent enrollment opportunities and how to best utilize technical education from Utah’s technical schools.

“We focus on giving students a skill set within a shorter allotment of time and to also get them work ready,” Chiu said. “We work with the industry to determine what is needed, what kind of jobs are needed and how they might be changing. We keep our curriculum current to industry needs.”