• Frequently Asked Questions


    What is ATAM?

    The Academy of Technology and Advanced Manufacturing (ATAM) is a four-year career academy within Cary High School and part of Wake County Public Schools. It is a smaller learning community in which a cohort of students have core and Engineering/Manufacturing classes together. Academy teachers share the cohort students and work together to integrate technology into their curricula as well as develop interdisciplinary projects. Class sizes in ATAM are comparable to other classes at CHS.


    Who is it for?

    Under current school board policy, only students assigned to Cary High School may apply and be admitted to ATAM. All rising freshmen assigned to AHS may apply. ATAM is a four-year program so students cannot be admitted to ATAM after 9th grade. Students must be on the standard course of study and have an interest in Engineering, Advanced Manufacturing, and technology.


    Does my student need to be experienced in technology?

    No. Students will learn skills in Technology, Engineering and/or Advanced Manufacturing via multiple technical courses over four years. Students should enjoy using and learning about technology.


    Is ATAM only for students interested in technology Careers?

    No. While many ATAM students are interested in Technolgoy, Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing careers, the skills students will learn in ATAM are transferable to any career choice.


    How are students admitted?

    After students apply a lottery is used to fill all academy spots with a maximum of 90 students. If more than 90 students apply, the lottery is used to determine the order of the waitlist. Students may be brought in from the waitlist over the summer before 9th grade or during the school year if a spot becomes open.


    Why is a lottery used?

    According to school board policy, a career academy should be homogeneous to the school’s student population. A lottery is the most equitable method to achieve this. Interest in technology/manufacturing and grades are not a factor in admittance.


    What are the benefits of joining ATAM?

    • Learning advanced technical and/or manufacturing skills
    • Learning Advanced communication, teamwork and problem solving skills
    • Be introduced to the professional work environment
    • Learn how to build a professional network
    • Have access to well-paying, in-demand careers after graduation
    • Have access to internship and apprenticeship programs
    • Get a head start on college and career
    • Be part of a group of students and teachers that become like family
    • Be empowered to enter the workforce confident and ready to succeed


    Can my student take honors or AP classes in ATAM?

    Yes. In core ATAM classes such as English, Social Studies, and Science, students will be in combined classes of academic and honors, depending on what level they are recommended for and available seats. Teachers will differentiate assessments for the academic and honors levels. Students may take AP courses, but they will not be guaranteed ATAM cohort classes. This does not have any effect on their status in ATAM.


    Can my student take other elective courses?

    Yes. While four ATAM technical courses are required in the four years, students still have the opportunity to take many other elective courses(see Suggested Electives Sheet).  Additional courses are needed to meet the following graduation requirements:

    • 2 Elective credits of any combination from either:
    • Career and Technical Education (CTE)
    •  Arts Education
    •  Second Languages
    • 4 Elective credits strongly recommended (four course concentration) from one of the following:
    • Career and Technical Education (CTE)
    • JROTC
    • Arts Education


    Is ATAM more difficult?

    No. All courses follow the NC standard course of study. What will be different are the integration of technology into core classes, interdisciplinary approach to teaching, and project-based learning. Work-based learning and 21st Century Skills are also a strong point of focus in ATAM courses. ATAM students will have many projects that involve working in teams and giving presentations.


    Are there any conflicts with athletics or clubs?

    No. ATAM students may participate in athletics and/or clubs at AHS or any activities that are after the school day. Many ATAM students do participate in athletics and/or clubs.


    Are there any conflicts with marching band?

    No. Marching band takes place after school. Many ATAM students participate in marching band.


    What are the conflicts between ATAM and performing arts courses?

    Because performing arts courses are often required for two semesters per year and because they are often only scheduled during one period, they may conflict with ATAM courses. Because there is a new master schedule each year, it cannot be guaranteed that there won’t be conflicts over the four years. ATAM students can sometimes fit in one semester of band/orchestra as freshmen and one or two performing arts courses each year after 9th grade. Because of conflicts, we ask that if performing arts are a priority, those students do not apply to ATAM.


    Are there any costs or fees to be in ATAM?

    Students are required to purchase an ATAM shirt (approximately $25) in 9th grade and pay expenses for field trips. The inability to pay will not have any impact student participation in ATAM. The academy will try to provide funding for need-based situations.


    Can my student drop out of ATAM?

    We expect students and their parents/guardians to seriously consider their decision to enroll because we expect a four-year commitment to the program’s responsibilities and requirements. Most of the time, conflicts with a student’s obligations have been worked out to allow students to meet their goals and stay in the ATAM. If the conflict cannot be resolved, then the student and parent must submit a letter to the Cary High School administration requesting to drop ATAM. The decision to drop will be made on a case-by-case basis.