Education

State funding announced to help engineering education in Merced, Mariposa

Fabian Filipp, assistant professor of systems biology at UC Merced, gives Buhach Colony High School students a tour of the new Science and Engineering Building 2 after a lecture on his recent melanoma study last month. About $1.8 million from the state is set to connect Merced County students with area higher education programs.
Fabian Filipp, assistant professor of systems biology at UC Merced, gives Buhach Colony High School students a tour of the new Science and Engineering Building 2 after a lecture on his recent melanoma study last month. About $1.8 million from the state is set to connect Merced County students with area higher education programs. akuhn@mercedsunstar.com

The Merced County Office of Education announced additional funding this week for a total of $1.8 million that is earmarked to train teachers in engineering instruction.

The Merced County Office of Education will partner with UC Merced, Merced College, Merced City School District and Mariposa Unified School District for the three-year California Academic Math Science Program grant through the California Department of Education, according to a news release.

The intensive training and instruction on engineering will be aimed at 60 teachers of third through eighth grades, and led by UC Merced and Merced College faculty, according to the release.

The purpose of the grant is to improve so-called STEM education – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – for disadvantaged students.

“Nationwide, the number of STEM occupations has grown 8 percent in the past 10 years and the expectation is that they will grow twice as fast in the next 10 years,” Merced County Superintendent Steven E. Gomes said in the statement. “A recent study suggests that 16 of the 25 highest paid jobs in the U.S. will require STEM preparation, and STEM workers will continue to earn 26 percent more than their peers in non-STEM fields.”

During the next three years, about 1,800 students in Merced and Mariposa counties will be part of the program to attempt to improve their knowledge in those fields of study.

Teachers in 19 school districts across Merced and Mariposa counties are to use new instructional models posted on the national website www.teachengineering.org.

Jonathan Rhodea, the project director for the grant money, said the instruction has the potential to have a “huge impact” on the overall achievement of Merced County students.

YangQuan Chen, UC Merced’s associate professor of mechanical engineering, has worked with the Buhach Colony High School Engineering Academy Advisory Board. He said one of his goals is to help students be more equipped in the four areas of study before they get to college, the release stated.

For more information about upcoming trainings and the grant, call (209) 381-5908.

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