While the majority of community college students arrive underprepared in math, our accelerated course plan, internships, and wraparound support are changing the equation for those interested in STEM.
Growth Sector began working with Ohlone College faculty and administration in 2014 to develop a STEM Core cohort on its campus in providing a pathway to engineering degrees and careers aimed at the large number of students entering the college underprepared in math. Immediately, the college recognized the impact of the STEM Core and its associated supports – cohort-based learning community, STEM career exposure, study skill development, wraparound academic & social support, and paid industry internships. Students passed the accelerated math courses at unprecedented rates and began to thrive in internships with local employers.
With evidence of the program’s positive impact, Growth Sector worked with the college to expand the STEM Core on its campus to serve additional students. In addition to the original cohort’s course sequence serving engineering students, Ohlone expanded to a second cohort serving computer science majors. The STEM Core currently serves approximately 75 students per year between the two cohorts.
As an active member of the National STEM Core Network, Ohlone has provided examples to other colleges in using STEM Core as a basis for additional initiatives aimed at bolstering the STEM workforce pipeline. In 2018, Ohlone College and Growth Sector were awarded a National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education award to develop the Smart Manufacturing Technology Program in which the STEM Core and associated internships serve as the foundational first year. In 2019, Ohlone and Growth Sector, along with three other regional colleges and employers such as Tesla, Livermore Lab, SLAC National Lab, Berkeley Lab and CalTrans, were awarded the California Community College Chancellor’s Office California Apprenticeship Initiative grant to develop the Northern California Engineering Technology Apprenticeship Program—an effort to formalize the work-and-learn pathway with local advanced manufacturing employers.
— Dr. Rose-Margaret Itua
Chair, Ohlone College Engineering Department
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