(TNS) – Students in the Austin School District can now get a taste of the tech industry through a STEM Learning Center and a partnership with Dell Technologies at Northeast Early College High School.
The new Center for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics allows students to work in a space reflecting the high-tech and collaborative offices common in industry.
It will support the school’s practical college program in Information Technology, which provides students with free courses at Austin Community College and the opportunity to earn an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science with a specialization in cybersecurity.
“We knew that the students sitting in rows in a traditional classroom did not prepare them for what would happen next,” Deputy principal Kevin Garcia said during a visit to the center on Wednesday. “It didn’t prepare them for the college experience. It didn’t prepare them for the industry.”
The center, housed in a renovated section of the high school, offers students a space to explore virtual reality and esports, interactive screens and classrooms, a computer lab with 34 of the latest Dell desktops and a high-end server. power.
The $ 300,000 server, separate from the district’s computer network, will serve as a “sandbox” for students to experiment and explore cybersecurity without endangering the district’s network, Garcia said.
The renovation cost about $ 1.5 million, Garcia said, and it was made possible through collaboration with Dell, according to district leaders. Students in the program will also benefit from visits, mentoring, and post-graduation interviews with Dell, headquartered in Round Rock.
“And so not only can you walk into this place that replicates the experience you would have if you were at Dell, but you will be blessed with wonderful compensation for it,” Anthony Mays, district school principal, said said 21 freshmen in the program Wednesday.
The partnership builds on the district’s first college programs to prepare the school’s students, made up of 82 percent Hispanic students and 13 percent black students, to enter the growing tech industry at Austin and the United States.
For Dell, which began collaborating with the school district in 2015, the goal is to give back to the Austin community while securing a future tech workforce, said Snow White, education strategist for the business.
White said the company projects a global labor shortage of 4.3 million people in the tech industry by 2030.
“That’s a mind boggling figure when you think about it, and it’s an industry that drives progress,” she said. “So at Dell we need people, students like you, to build this pipeline. “
The program focuses on cybersecurity, which has become an increasingly important field in technology, but it will also give students the opportunity to learn more about the growing areas of gaming, esports and of virtual reality.
“We know cybersecurity will be there for as long as you need it,” Garcia said. “But if not, we also know that you are going to be preparing to pivot in the direction this will take us.”
District leaders said the high school collaboration would serve as a pilot to expand or create similar career-focused programs in the district.
North Austin’s Navarro Early College, for example, offers similar programs that focus on computer programming and user experience design.
Creslond Fannin, executive director of the district’s first high schools and P-TECH programs, said officials were in talks with ACC and Tesla, which is moving its headquarters to Austin, in hopes of creating another collaboration.
“One of the most important things we’ve found is that we really need to align ourselves more with our math curriculum, starting in grades three and four, really getting them on that advanced path so that they are really prepared for math is behind the work on such complex parts as at Tesla, ”she said.
For now, she hopes the STEM center and the Dell partnership will lead students to employment.
“STEM is one of the fastest growing fields we have in this country that will be really employable for everyone, and the associate degree is really going to give them a head start, even maybe for certain managerial positions when applying for the job, ”she said.
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