Field Trip Provides Real-Life Experience

“It was great to see real-life examples of how programming is applied to manufacturing and engineering and how it’s it’s used every day,” said Zane Walters.

About 20 students were from Donna von der Hoff’s advanced placement computer science class visited two companies with very different uses for computer programmers.

Carnevale and Medbio are both located in Grand Rapids and both use computer science skills in very different ways.

Carnevale is on the cutting edge of new design and technology. Students tried their hand at some of the latest innovations in virtual reality. They also learned how the company creates game designs, sophisticated websites and apps, and virtual and augmented reality.

“They work on projects with people from all over the world. They have clients in Athens, Greece and Russia.  It was neat to see how they all work together,” said Avery Martin, a high school senior interested in a possible career in systems administration and network security.

In a much different way, Medbio also uses computer programming as a contract manufacturer of medical supplies. Their engineers program machines to make precise surgical equipment.

Annabelle Byers said getting to visit the companies has helped her narrow down her career path. “I’m more interested in game development and not so much on programming machines,” she said. “But it was definitely good to see both.”
All the students said they were very impressed with both companies and thankful for the experience.

“It’s insanely important to be able to see what these kinds of companies actually do and get a real-life look at it,” said Martin. “Otherwise you wouldn’t know what it’s like at all. It’s nothing like being in a high school classroom. And this really helped me realize what kind of work I want to do in the future.”

Kaleb Mickletcher and Collin Miller agreed. “You can’t get this from being in a classroom,” said Miller.

Even as a high school teacher, von der Hoff said she also learns so much just from visiting the companies. “There are so many different career opportunities and ways computer science and programming is being used. These companies we visited were awesome. They talked to the kids about colleges and careers and what classes they need to take.”

She said company officials also gave students options. “They (students) learned they don’t have to go directly to a four-year college. There are options.”

She said there are companies who will hire students from community colleges and then help them pay for additional schooling if needed. And there are internship opportunities for students right out of high school in some cases.

“I am able to bring so much back to all my students just by visiting these different companies,” she said. 

She credited the Kent Intermediate School District with helping set up and coordinate the visits.