ArmyEdSpace Spotlight

Scott Engle, Chef Instructor, Mercer County Technical School

Scott Engle
Pennington, NJ
Chef Instructor
Mercer County Technical School

Q: Please tell us a little about yourself, your background and your position.

Since 1998, I have been the Chef Instructor at the Mercer County Technical School. Prior to teaching, I worked in restaurants and private clubs for 15 years. I am a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. 

During my teaching career, my students have competed in SkillsUSA competitions producing over 25 medals at the New Jersey state level for culinary arts. We also won and/or placed in the categories of cold foods, food service, workplace readiness, team demonstration and individual presentation. Our first incoming freshman class produced a team of gold medal winners in the career pathways showcase in food and agriculture. In addition, culinary arts has medaled in three of the last five years of competition in the Pro-start culinary competition.

Graduates of the program have gone on to graduate from some of the country’s most prestigious colleges and universities, work in top rated restaurants, own their own businesses and teach in the field.

Q: How did you become involved with the Army? 

I became involved with the Army after I was introduced to Sgt. George Johnson. Sgt. Johnson told me about opportunities schools have to partner with Army experts to teach or reinforce aspects of the trades we teach. I heard about a concept for a cooking challenge including MRE’s, and nobody had shown interest. I easily saw the potential, and developed the SkillsUSA MRE challenge. We initially ran a two-teamed event with the Essex County Technical School. 

With input from other chefs I revamped the competition and ran it in March of this year as a regional SkillsUSA demonstration competition with 14 teams.

The contest is scheduled to run in the April 2018 New Jersey SkillsUSA state wide contest. We are very excited about it.

See a video from the MRE Challenge here: 

Q: What were you surprised to learn about the Army through your involvement? 

I was excited to hear about the opportunities and the more than 200 careers in which the Army operates. I was also interested in the educational benefits and financial opportunities available to those who take advantage of them. Many of our students may have debt over $100,000 before having steady employment. The Army is a very viable opportunity to develop your skills in the occupation of your choice, educate yourself and return to the industry without tremendous debt.

Q: Why do you feel military service should be considered a viable post-secondary option?

After spending time with the Army’s Education Tour and local recruiters it became clear that you can serve your country, develop professional skills, continue your post-secondary education with minimal to no cost (which I have come to believe is very important to the Army) and complete the circle by providing America’s workforce with highly-trained and motivated individuals to propel our economy forward.

The skills that we teach, standards we set and professional ethics as well as interpersonal skills mirror the Army’s in many ways.

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