Two grants give steam to STEM programs at CSUCI and across the county

December 23, 2017

Courtesy photo.

CAMARILLO — Two separate programs led by CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) have received grants to support the cause of science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) education.

The Amgen Foundation awarded $75,000 toward a program entitled “Expanding the Impact and Sustaining the Work of the VC STEM Network.”

And a CSUCI summer program that introduces high school students from Oxnard Union High School District to the basics of physics and engineering is getting a $25,000 boost from the Pentair Foundation.

Led by CSUCI, the VC STEM network is a collection of companies, schools, universities, museums, educational programs, and a host of other local organizations interested in advancing STEM education from pre-school through high school.

VC STEM Director Phil Hampton, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry at CSUCI, said this is the fourth year the Amgen Foundation has funded VC STEM, which is enabling the program to continue its momentum as it develops collaboration and resource-sharing around STEM instruction and programming. The Amgen Foundation has committed a total of $350,000 over the past five years.

“This grant will enable us to continue our Golden Gear Award recognition program for high quality STEM educational settings, to continue our Tour de STEM site visits to schools across Ventura County, and to build our STEM mentoring program,” Hampton said. “Our STEM Odyssey mentoring program has the slogan, ‘You can’t be what you can’t see.’ We are trying give visibility to STEM professional mentors from underserved backgrounds and populations. This way, underserved K-12 kids can ‘see it and know they can be it.’ It lets kids see someone who looks like them in a successful STEM career.”

This year, VC STEM is creating a convenient computer portal so that organizations and schools involved in STEM education can access mentors and volunteers more easily.

This is the second year Pentair has provided a grant to the “Engineering Innovation Summer Bridge Program at California State University Channel Islands.”

The program provides four weeks of university-level physics and engineering classes to a group of 12th graders from Hueneme High School. The 12th graders receive instruction from CSUCI STEM professors while Hueneme High School students going into 11th grade attend pre-engineering classes at Oxnard College. The program will expand to include a second high school through this grant.

“STEM education is an important focus at Pentair as we work to build the next generation of engineers and innovators,” said Marybeth Thorsgaard, Pentair Foundation Board President. “We are pleased to continue to support CSUCI’s efforts to further STEM education in their community.”

Hampton expressed his appreciation for Pentair’s support, adding that the Summer Bridge program is especially important this year.

“We really need to be building the pipeline of students to succeed in the Mechatronics program that we will be launching this fall,” Hampton said. “This allows high school students to become engaged in engineering and get some hands-on experience.”

CSUCI’s Mechatronics engineering major, which will admit its first class of freshmen in fall of 2018, is a multidisciplinary field of science that includes a combination of mechanical engineering, electronics, computer engineering, telecommunications engineering, and systems engineering.

About California State University Channel Islands: CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) is the only four-year, public university in Ventura County and is known for its interdisciplinary, multicultural and international perspectives, and its emphasis on experiential and service learning. CSUCI’s strong academic programs focus on business, sciences, liberal studies, teaching credentials, and innovative master’s degrees. Students benefit from individual attention, up-to-date technology, and classroom instruction augmented by outstanding faculty research. CSUCI has been designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is committed to serving students of all backgrounds from the region and beyond. Connect with and learn more by visiting CSUCI’s Social Media.

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