In one corner at this Federal Institute of Education, Science, and Technology, four teenagers are learning how to use lathes. Next door, a group of young adults is crowded around a desk testing electronic circuits.
A decade ago, technical institutes like this one, on the outskirts of São Paulo, were filled with students learning trades such as plumbing, carpentry, and electronics.
But today, their classrooms are as likely to attract students training to be high-school math teachers or studying for a degree in systems analysis.
The number of Brazil's technical institutes has nearly tripled over the last eight years, and the institutes have broadened their scope.
The expansion of this system is considered vital for a nation in desperate need of skilled workers. Brazil's growing oil and gas sector requires a range of skilled professionals, including welders, electricians, builders, and information-technology specialists. The country is also urgently trying to build the infrastructure necessary to handle rapidly increasing living standards, and to ensure that roads, airports, stadiums, and accommodations will be ready for the 2016 Olympics and the 2014 World Cup.