Western Arkansas Technical Center
The Western Arkansas Technical Center isn't your typical educational center. And that is why WATC graduates are so sought after by employers. Since 1998 WATC has delivered cutting-edge technical and career programming to high school students in 22 districts throughout the River Valley. In that time, nearly 10,000 juniors and seniors have earned more than 100,000 college credit hours and gained the skills necessary to advance their careers.
WATC's career-focused programming is designed in conjunction with some of the nation's largest manufacturers and taught by experienced faculty from the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith. Students take a hands-on approach to learning using industry-leading technology at the UAFS campus and thanks to a partnership with Fort Smith Public Schools at the multi-million dollar PEAK Innovation Center.
Through programming and industry exposure, students receive a direct connection to career opportunities in the region. Students who complete these courses can earn a competitive salary upon high school graduation and are prepared to thrive in college. The coursework students complete through WATC seamlessly transfer to UAFS, reducing the time and expense of earning a college degree.
What We Do
- To aid students in making an informed career choice. Students select a technical program based on their interests and aptitudes. Their experiences in the program help them to make career choices.
- To prepare students to enter the workforce upon high school graduation. The programs provided by UAFS to WATC students lead to a professional certification, a certificate of proficiency, or a technical certificate from UAFS. These equal marketable job skills.
- To encourage students to continue their education after high school. UAFS classes successfully completed by students enrolled through the WATC program are credited at both the high school and college levels. Students can finish their technical program with as many as 40 hours toward a degree or advanced certification program.
Who We Serve
WATC serves high school students from Crawford, Franklin, Johnson, Logan, Scott, and Sebastian counties. Services are offered at no cost to the students. WATC provides books, tuition, and fees thanks to funding made available by the Department of Workforce Education and a training fee paid by the local school districts.
To supplement classroom exposure, students gain practical experience during later-term apprenticeships which are modeled to provide real-world learning. Apprenticeships are completed throughout the student's senior year, allowing them to capitalize on the technical concurrent college credit courses offered through Peak and WATC. The ongoing aligned support of our K-12 partners is critical to a student's successful transition into the workplace or their pursuit of a college degree.
Changing perceptions about the value an apprenticeship has for both students and industry requires an adjustment of delivery methods and expectations. Students are expected to hone the professional and technical skills that will allow them to become competitive candidates in the workplace.
Our apprenticeships hold high expectations for industry partners. To participate in the program and engage with the diverse and proficient talent being produced through the technical centers, companies are required to demonstrate their commitment to our modern apprenticeship model.