The Davis School District’s state-of-the-art Davis Catalyst Center in Kaysville is pictured on Tuesday. The center, which focuses on vocational and technical training paths, allows students to work on advanced projects in partnership with real-world companies. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)
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KAYSVILLE — Evan McCausland knew he wanted to make a living working in cybersecurity.
Typically, there isn’t much room in a high school curriculum for students to explore interests like McCausland’s, but that’s changing in Davis County thanks to the new Davis Catalyst Center.
“I think it’s a really, really good opportunity for people to try things that they think they’d like,” said McCausland, a Davis High School senior.
Davis County students, school district leaders and community members packed the Catalyst Center in Kaysville on Tuesday to cut the ribbon for the first facility of its kind in Utah and to see what kind of projects students have worked.
The Davis Catalyst Center is a state-of-the-art education center that focuses on career and technical education, or CTE, and enables students to work on advanced projects through partnerships with companies and organizations. from the real world such as Epic Games, Adobe, Intermountain Healthcare, Hill Air Force Base and many more.
“Here, we’re partnering with industry to create the next generation of professionals,” said Center Director Brian Hunt. “We focus on technical skills, but we also focus on professional skills. It’s a special place where students work on real-world projects.”
The 37,717 square foot building, which once housed a tax preparation company, was transformed from an office building designed by VCBO Architecture. The architecture team made deliberate design choices to incorporate the spirit of the center into the building.
LED lighting can be seen all around the building, traveling irregularly from outside to inside in an effort to symbolize the paths taken by life – rarely a straight line. Additionally, copper — a catalyst — is intentionally displayed throughout the building, signifying conductive properties, said Jeanne Jackson, director of VCBO Architecture.
Hunt on Tuesday touted the center’s strong vocational and technical training offerings for Davis County high school students. “We have amazing CTE teachers across the district and it just adds one more opportunity for our students,” he said.
Educational pathways offered by the Davis Catalyst Center include:
- IT (cybersecurity, advanced game design)
- Unmanned systems
- Digital entertainment and multimedia production (audio production, graphic design, video production)
- Business, Marketing and Entrepreneurship
- culinary arts
- Medical assistance
- Pharmacy Technology
Students enrolled in Catalyst Center programs attend for two class periods of their school day, on alternate days.
“This place is specifically designed to connect students with industry, so we work with all kinds of industry partners to provide students with authentic and experiential learning experiences – and that’s what’s different about of this place,” Hunt said.
The students think so too.
Ty Barney is a Davis School District junior studying business, marketing, and entrepreneurship at the Catalyst Center. He heard about the center through emails sent to his mother, who then encouraged him to check it out.
“I tried it and really liked it,” Barney said. “It almost feels like college. Obviously I haven’t been to college, but it’s a bit like that. It’s very relaxed, for example, we don’t have normal classrooms .”
Barney is currently working on developing an app for the Davis School District called “schoolbinder”, which aims to simplify school communication in a safe and secure way.
Like McCausland, who said coming to the center “absolutely” reinforced his decision to pursue cybersecurity, Barney was also reassured by the center.
“I already know I want to do business, but yeah, that just makes it stronger,” Barney said.
Even though Mccausland is a senior and is nearing the end of his time at the Catalyst Center, he said he appreciated the time he was able to spend there and was excited for future students to enjoy the center.
“It’s an amazing experience. I mean, the people here are great. They want to be here. No one is forced to take a class like this, (and) the teaching style is amazing,” said McCausland said. “It’s very useful for people who want to know: Is this something I want to do in the future, or is it not for me?”
Any Davis School District high school student who has started a career and technical education path at their own high school can apply for a spot at the Catalyst Center spot, if their chosen path matches one of the of the Center.
“We really want this place to encourage kids to go back to CTE at their home high school, wherever it is…and then come here for, in a way, the most advanced experience…of the cornerstone “, said Hunt.
Potential industry partners interested in working with the Davis Catalyst Center can obtain more information by emailing Natalie Stromberg, the center’s business development coordinator, at [email protected]
Students and district leaders expressed hope that the Catalyst Center can serve as an inspiration for other educational projects across Utah and the country.
“Our students are going to make this place great, our faculty are going to make this place great, it was set up for greatness,” said Davis School District Superintendent Reid Newey.