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11/18/2009 Sierra College helps Nevada Union High School Teachers Produce Fresh IDEAs


Science, Engineering, Technology & Math (STEM) grant creates pipeline of future workers

ROCKLIN – Nevada Union High School students in the new IDEA (Innovative Design and Engineering Applications) class are benefiting from three instructors’ fresh approach to teaching and Sierra College’s support in attracting students to technical education and careers.

In this fun, innovative applied academics class, students learn relevant skills that may lead to highly-paid in-demand technical careers. They design, engineer, prototype, test and produce projects such as desk organizers, a launching device and a vertical axis wind mill. Sierra College's Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) grant that made it possible for John McDaniel (Physics), Art Andersen (Career Technical Education) and Mike Ford (Computer, CAD Drafting) to collaborate, develop and co-teach this new program at the high school.

Using new Inventor software, students apply their creativity to design 3D products and then use the digital instructions to make a rapid prototype. Physics and math principles are used to plan, re-design and re-engineer the projects. In the brand new lab that has everything from welding equipment, fabrication tooling and a foundry, students gain hands-on experience as they produce projects in wood, metal, plastic and other materials. Teachers rotate instruction periods giving students the benefit of their different expertise.

According to Sandra Scott, Director, Grant Development and Career Technical Education, Sierra College, the course engages students and gives them a sense of the product development cycle utilized by local manufacturers. "These instructors have created innovative curriculum that integrates both academic and Career Technical Education concepts to provide a well-rounded experience for students," said Scott. "Students can go on to Engineering, Mechatronics, Engineering Support Technology, Photovoltaic Energy Technology and Applied Art & Design at Sierra College and university." The Sierra College STEM collaborative grant provided professional development for instructors, guidance to the team and new classroom equipment.

This integrated teaching approach is the wave of the future and one way to attract students to opportunities in technical fields explained Marty Mathiesen, Principal. "Students want a reason to learn math and science concepts," said Marty Mathiesen. "The IDEA class appeals to students with varying interests and skills because they can work as a team to problem solve. We appreciate the grant from Sierra College that gave our teachers the opportunity to create a first-class program that excites students with relevant hands-on learning experiences."

The instructors would welcome community support such as the donation of scrap material and equipment, classroom mentors with engineering, fabrication or computer expertise, speakers from industry, and opportunities for student and teacher tours and job shadows at local employers. Contact Art Andersen, John McDaniel or Mike Ford at 530-273-4431 or Chris Hinderman with the Sierra College STEM Collaborative at (530) 637-5183 or

Sierra College received a $500,000 grant from the California Community College Chancellor's Office that supports the region's long-term economic viability through career technical education (CTE). 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. For more information about the Sierra STEM Collaborative, 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
Rocklin - Roseville Auburn Truckee Nevada City Grass Valley
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