Buena Park High becomes first school in state to offer SACA tech certifications 

Students with certificates

A half-dozen Buena Park High School students recently became the first cohort in California to receive advanced technology certifications at their campus through the Smart Automation Certification Alliance, or SACA.

Lance Ramos, Edwin Ocampo, Allen Carino, Edwin Rodriguez, Xavier Arellano and Goura Salam were enrolled this year in the mechatronics program at Buena Park High, which is in the Fullerton Joint Union High School District. If you’re not familiar with mechatronics, it’s a branch of engineering that merges mechanics and electrical systems with computers and robotics. 

After successfully completing a rigorous training program based on the latest technologies including automation and data analytics, the BPHS students were given the chance to earn SACA’s Industry 4.0 Gold Certification, which requires a written exam along with hands-on performance assessments using approved equipment.

Ramos, a junior, said the SACA program taught him and his fellow students “about the basics, complexity and uses of mechanical and electrical material.”

“The SACA Gold Certification shows that those who are certified have mastered the skills and have the basic knowledge of a certain material,” he said. “They educate people with this because it allows for people to get a job much more easily, because a company will not need to educate their employees about their jobs and save money.”

“The SACA Gold Certification means a lot to me,” Ramos added. “To me, it is the pathway I have picked for my life and it is my first step into my future.”

Fourth industrial revolution

According to its website, SACA is a non-profit organization that offers affordable and accessible certification programs for a wide range of industries. 

Karl Zener, executive director of Administrative Services for the Fullerton Joint Union High School District, says Buena Park High sought SACA membership about a year ago to further align its educational coursework with the needs of “Industry 4.0.” Sometimes called the fourth industrial revolution of manufacturing, Industry 4.0 refers to everything from cloud computing and analytics to automation and artificial intelligence. 

“These certifications use standards developed with input from industry leaders, so students can feel confident as they pursue employment as a result of their career technical education,” Zener said.

“What the SACA means to me,” said Arellano, an 11th-grader, “is the endless amount of opportunities that there are for me and my future that I didn’t think I would have available.”

A fast-changing world

Buena Park High instructor Maroun Nehme said he’s proud of his students, and he characterized the SACA certification option as “a major step” for his school’s Advanced Robotics & Mechatronics program.

“The fact that our students have equitable access to the right equipment provides them the opportunity to learn and master hands-on skills in several aspects of the automated manufacturing industry,” Nehme said. “Armed with the right knowledge and set of skills, our students are better prepared for the fast-changing world they will encounter after high school.”

The Fullerton Joint Union High School District serves approximately 13,500 students in grades nine through 12 in the cities of Fullerton, La Habra, La Habra Heights and Buena Park, along with smaller sections of Brea and Whittier. Founded in 1893, the district oversees six comprehensive high schools, a continuation high school and an alternative school.