College Partner for STEM Success: El Camino College

We are deeply grateful to count El Camino College as one of Da Vinci Schools' champion partners of innovative, hands-on learning in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. Under the leadership of Dean Emeritus Ron Way, El Camino College has had a profound impact on Da Vinci students and teachers, partnering with the nationally recognized Project Lead The Way (PLTW) provider of K-12 STEM curriculum to offer rigorous, project- and problem-based engineering courses, host teacher professional development, and facilitate an engaged network of industry supporters and funders at Da Vinci Schools.

Way, who is also the West Los Angeles PLTW Regional State Leader, has actively supported the creation and expansion of PLTW programs across the region, including Da Vinci's PLTW program. Thanks to Way's efforts, Da Vinci students receive college credit for five PLTW classes taken in high school.

A certified PLTW school, Da Vinci Science currently offers all the Pathway to Engineering PLTW courses (at no cost to families), many for dual credit/concurrent enrollment through El Camino College's Industry and Technology Division, Career & Technical Education program: Introduction to Engineering Design, Principles of Engineering, Computer Integrated Manufacturing, Engineering Design & Development, and Digital Electronics. Da Vinci also offers a number of PLTW courses for non-credit as part of our seminar (elective) program: Aerospace Engineering, Biotechnical Engineering (to be replaced by Biological Engineering), and Civil Engineering & Architecture. Last year, Da Vinci Science teacher Lenny Perez was one of only two teachers in California selected by PLTW to pilot the first course in their newest career pathway, Computer Science Engineering.

Way's clout and credibility in both industry and academia have opened doors to new opportunities for kids, including mentoring relationships and other public-private partnerships that promote STEM interests. Working alongside Way and El Camino College is Chevron, a "National Partner" of PLTW. Chevron is funding programs across the nation to improve STEM education and address the shortage of STEM talent in the workforce. At Da Vinci Schools, Chevron provides funding for PLTW professional development training, equipment, materials, technology, and more, under the leadership of Lily Craig, Chevron's External Affairs Manager.

The success of Da Vinci's four-year engineering pathway has resulted in Da Vinci Schools being designated a best practice demonstration site for establishing a regional real-world learning model as part of a $15 million Career Pathways grant with LAUSD from the state's Department of Education for programs linking learning and career and technical education. Dr. Vince Bertram, the president and CEO of PLTW, calls Da Vinci Science a "global model for STEM education." The success of Da Vinci's PLTW program would not be possible without Ron Way, El Camino College, Chevron, PLTW Director of School Engagement Karen Latuner, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Da Vinci Science School Director Steve Wallis, and our amazing faculty, staff and students.

The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that STEM jobs will grow 17 percent by 2018-nearly double the growth for non-STEM fields. By 2018, the U.S. will have more than 1.2 million unfilled STEM jobs because there will not be enough qualified workers to fill them. The California PLTW team is taking action by providing access to high quality STEM curriculum at more than 700 schools in California through six regional hubs and four affiliate universities.

Da Vinci students who like to design, build, and strategize with teammates have many opportunities to apply their STEM knowledge and skills in a real-world context. In addition to their PLTW coursework, many students participate in robotics competitions (FIRST and VEX) and engineering design challenges hosted by Chevron, Northrop, and Raytheon.

We are proud to collaborate with the California PLTW team of El Camino College, Chevron, Cal Poly Pomona, San Diego State University, and San Jose State University as education to employment partners dedicated to rigorous teacher training and to strengthening the STEM pipeline linking K-12 schools with colleges and careers.

We also wish to acknowledge and thank the rest of the El Camino College team for their support: Dr. Stephanie Rodriguez, Dean of the Industry and Technology Division; Dr. Francisco Arce, Vice President of Academic Affairs; Dr. Jeanie Nishime, Vice President of Student & Community Advancement; Naomi Castro, Director for Career Pathways; and Megan Ruane, Career Pathways Program Assistant.