BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) – The news of an Amazon fulfillment center coming to Bristol, Virginia is big for the region. With the new casino and now the new Amazon facility, hundreds of jobs are expected to come to Southwest Virginia.
Jobs with Amazon vary, with a variety of opportunities available and some of those opportunities start at a young age. Through the Amazon Future Engineers program, grade school students are able to learn about the opportunities available and receive early-on training that will better their chances of a career with Amazon.
According to Bristol Virginia Public Schools Superintendent, Keith Perrigan, Amazon contacted their school district earlier this year in regards to a partnership.
“Our public education has a responsibility not to just get students ready for college, but to get them ready for the workforce. We followed that advice and started a future engineers program,” said Perrigan.
In recent weeks following the announcement of the Amazon facility coming to the region, educators within the school system have been testing the waters and to see what the interest in a program like this would be.
So far, select students have been able to go on a virtual tour of Amazon facilities to get an inside look at how day-to-day operations are conducted. The hour-long virtual tour alone has peaked interest in 8th graders at Virginia Middle School.
“They used those robot things and that was super cool to see how they would just move on their own and they wouldn’t run into each other, that was really cool,” said Virginia Middle School student, Phoebe Edwards.
Other students said the tour helped solidify possible career paths for them. “I’ve kind of wanted to be an engineer for a little while so that might be something in my future,” said Virginia Middle School student, Dexter Barrett.
Virginia Middle School was selected for this program at the beginning of the year by Amazon and Code VA in an effort to implement a computer science program surrounding specific Amazon-based curriculum as an additional elective course. Eileene Allison, the tech education teacher at Virginia Middle School said this isn’t their first rodeo with Amazon.
Allison said she has a student who won an essay contest sponsored by Amazon and Code VA. The student’s essay focused on using sensors to detect pollution in the ocean and how to pinpoint it, she won the top prize for the region and even received a laptop from Amazon.
Overall, Allison sees this program as a great opportunity and hopes they can develop a course to offer by the Fall. City leaders, like Bristol Virginia Mayor, Bill Hartley said training these kids and keeping them within our local economy has been a goal all along.
“To have a program like this that gives them the skills necessary to get a good-paying job and then to have some of those jobs right here in our community and region, it’s a plus,” said Hartley.
No matter what career path her students choose or where they choose to work in the future, Allison hopes this program opens her student’s eyes to all the opportunities available out there, especially in technology.
“It does expose them to the different careers that are going to be offered at the new facility, but if they wanted to move outside the area, as you can see in the video, they can go anywhere in the United States,” said Allison.