Limestone County tech students earn rare engineering certification

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LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - As lawmakers consider a bill to un-earmark education dollars so they can be moved to the state's General Fund, educators are pointing to student success stories to argue against the move.

Tristan Jay, a junior at East Limestone High School and student of the Limestone County Tech Center, is their latest example. The 16-year-old is now a Certified Labview Associate Developer. Jay says only 75 people in Alabama have the certification.

"Most of them are at Auburn taking a college class and all the rest of them are people that actually work in Labview in the field," Jay explained.

But he and his friend Blake Bennett, a student at West Limestone High School earned their certifications. They are the only two high school students in Alabama to do so. They also join just three other students in the country to have the certification.

Jay says he wants to go to UAH to be a Labview engineer.

"Maybe work at some place like Spacex, who is working on the Space systems to go and explore Mars, or possibly work for the U.S. Army."

He is interested in building drones that can be sent into a war zone to defeat the enemy instead of soldiers.

His engineering teacher, Casey Wigginton, wouldn't take credit for Jay's accomplishment. He attributed it to the money given to the school to afford the opportunity for students interested in the field.

"This certification alone would normally cost thousands of dollars, but thanks to earmarked funds that have been given to career tech schools and us giving him the opportunity to go through this training (Jay got the certification)," said Wigginton.

"We've made the opportunity available to them and students are just really hungry for knowledge and it's good to be able to take these funds and give them access to certifications and programs that normally they wouldn't have to see them succeed just as a professional would."