(Editor's Note: Alma Garcia, a senior at North Plainfield High School, is an intern for TAPinto North Plainfield, Green Brook & Watchung.)
NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – The North Plainfield High School Technology Awareness Program (TAP) is a program associated with Johnson & Johnson (J&J). The goal of the J&J information technology (IT) program is to expose college bound students to IT through practical, hands-on experience.
"The TAP program has increased my knowledge of what it is like to work in the corporate world of technology,” said Daney Reyes, a senior at North Plainfield High School who was involved with TAP last year.
The program’s main objective is to inform, inspire and motivate students towards information technology career and to allow students an inside look into what it’s like to work at a global corporation, as well to challenge students to use technology as a tool to solve current business problems. TAP, also helps build upon a student’s self confidence Not only that but to increase the self-confidence of talented students by helping them developed presentations skills through presentations to J&J employees.
TAP was started at North Plainfield High School six years ago under the leadership of former superintendent Dr. Marilyn Birnbaum in conjunction with Pete Ward, the son of her secretary Florence Ward and an employee at Johnson & Johnson who proposed offering the program at the school. Originally known as ‘Digital camp,’ the program lasted three days and required students to work on their case independently.
As time went by, the program underwent a few changes and, today, is overseen by advisors Barnali Dasgupta and Anthony Dellarosa.
According to Dasgupta, who teaches chemistry at North Plainfield High School and has worked for a pharmaceutical company in the past, the TAP program gives the students an opportunity to grow. Dasgupta loves the idea that the program provides a real life connection to chemistry, as J&J is a pharmaceutical company.
Dellarosa, who teaches computer science, web design and Cisco – a class that offers instruction in PC repair and networking, said TAP gives the students a chance they might not see every day, such as a view into the corporate world. “Though the program is only provided to students who take one of the classes mentioned above, it has a requirement to join,” he said.
To participate in TAP a student must submit a letter of interest to either of the advisors and take part in an interview that determines their interest and availability. The program is held over one semester (fall/spring), with two programs run per school year, and students meet on certain days of the week in the library with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) from Johnson and Johnson. All students are divided in groups, many activities are held, and a case study is given.
Throughout the semester, the groups create a solution to a current J&J business problem, however, it must be created with any technology that is available and presented to school administration, parents and J&J executives at a banquet at the end of the program. The students take a trip to J&J’s main station in Bridgewater and take a tour where they are shown how technology works its magic in different ways.
Although students do miss a few classes on the day they meet, many advantages are provided such as public speaking skills and networking skills as well as practice for presentations. Students grow because of the skills acquired in the program and get to enjoy many new career opportunities. Upon completion of the program those involved with TAP are awarded with a certificate and a letter of recommendation for college.
"TAP has opened up so many doors for me and helped me get into colleges I never thought I would get into. It was the best thing that has happened to me all year,” said Mariah Rohan, a senior at North Plainfield High School. “I was honored to be apart of this program because it gave me a glimpse of what my future in the IT department will look like."
Overall, the end goal of the J&J Technology Awareness Program is to provide students with a broad look at technology and its many branches of the program, to open the students mind to many career opportunities. "The TAP program was an amazing experience for me. I was exposed to the new technology and different career fields were thrown at my eyes. I have a wider range of what I want to do now," said North Plainfield High School junior Karon Dock.