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03/30/09 Sierra College wins $500,000 grant to attract students to technical careers
Students headed toward Science, Technology, Engineering & Math will fuel future economy

ROCKLIN – In today’s economic downturn, skilled workers are fundamental to economic recovery. Sierra College received a $500,000 grant from the California Community College Chancellor’s Office that will support the region’s long-term economic viability through career technicaal education (CTE). From middle school to college, students must be equipped with technical skills to meet the future needs of emerging industries. The grant aligns education with business to develop relevant hands-on learning models, merge academics with technical education and fill the pipeline of future workers with those who are qualified to fill highly-paid, in-demand technical positions.

According the Sandra Scott, Director, Grant Development and Career Technical Education at Sierra College, this grant will promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. "Through partnerships with industry as well as middle and high schools, Sierra College's STEM Community Collaborative is implementing innovative CTE models, strengthening existing programs, and attracting middle and high school students to STEM education," said Scott.

"This new grant will expand STEM projects in product design and manufacturing. In the digital age, the boundaries between art, design and manufacturing blur," said Scott. "Our goal is to equip students to use 3D solid modeling, apply aesthetic skills and use an understanding of ergonomics to design, develop and manufacture attractive, functional products. These classroom experiences will encourage students to pursue careers in engineering and product design."

According to Scott, the key is engaging students in applied learning through hands-on projects so they'll continue their technical education at Sierra College in Mechatronics, Engineering and Engineering Support Technology, and go on to fill high-paying, in-demand positions that strengthen our local economy. "We are preparing students to fill the anticipated need for engineers, CAD drafters, engineering technicians, product designers, surveyors, mechatronics technicians, solar installers, scientists, machinists and other technical careers," said Scott.

The new grant will continue to support existing Sierra College Collaborative STEM projects:

Scott Seacrist, Lincoln High School iDesign ( instructor teaches Computer Aided Design, and manual and Computer Numatic Controlled (CNC) machining. Seacrist says that he benefited from Sierra College's partnership in establishing the program and arranging for externships with local employers during the summer. "I job shadowed at Harris & Bruno, Robb Jack, Morgan Ceramics, Selway Machine Tool Company, EME Technologies and AB Tools," said Seacrist. "Working at local companies helped me refine the curriculum to incorporate skills that are required by employers."

At Colfax High School, teachers Jonathan Schwartz (Math/ROP Wood), Christian Kinsey (Metal), Tony Martello (Electronics), and Wade Wolff (Computer Applications) have worked collaboratively to modernize equipment and curriculum as a result of STEM grant funds and working with Sierra College. According to Schwartz, the partnership has resulted in a new vision for Career Technical Education, updated equipment, allowed instructors to access industry training and supported the development of a new multi-disciplinary introductory course called Design Tech ( ).

"Our vision is that through the process of turning ideas into final products, Colfax students will apply academics, develop flexible thinking and acquire marketable skills," said Schwartz. "The STEM grant has made it possible to modernize our classrooms so students are learning to use the same software, power tools and CNC equipment that are being used by local industry. Through professional development, such as MasterCAM training, instructors have been able to fine tune their skills."

North Tahoe High School in partnership with the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District is adding an engineering and architectural component that teaches computer assisted drafting, solid modeling and rapid prototyping technologies that complement the school's existing construction program. Oakmont High School in Roseville, Nevada Union High School in Grass Valley, Placer High School in Auburn, Lincoln High School in Lincoln and other schools are working with Sierra College to implement more STEM hands-on applied academic curriculum that introduces career-based technical concepts and inspires students to consider technical careers.

For more information, go to or contact Sandra Scott, Sierra College at (916) 781-6244.


Sierra College Center for Applied Competitive Technologies and Economic and Workforce Development
(916) 660-7801
Sierra College Training & Development
Sierra College Center for Applied Competitive Technologies (CACT)
  Placer, Nevada and parts of El Dorado and Sacramento Counties
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