Enriching steam education through high school partnerships

The availability of research and development careers keeps growing. Academia and the private sector must invest in training qualified STEAM professionals who can innovate and expand new technologies to fill these positions and boost American competitiveness. Findings suggest that students choose R&D majors at university when exposed to STEM learning experiences during high school.

Design Central has long recognized the importance of supporting STEAM education by continually hosting high school and university students to introduce them to product development careers. We have partnered with The Olentangy Academy, an alternative STEM program based in Ohio's Olentangy School District, to maximize student learning potential for the future. Our student this quarter is senior Gauri Joshi. Like most students in alternative school programming, Gauri works toward her academic goals, splitting the day between her Biomedical Research pathway at the Academy and traditional classes at her home high school. Instructors at the Academy teach Gauri to build critical thinking, collaboration and creativity skills using an integrated, cross-disciplinary, hands-on approach to solving real-world problems. A significant difference between traditional high school learning is The Academy's requirement that all STEM students intern with STEM professionals at organizations such as Design Central. The Academy has a ninety-three percent college attendance rate for its graduates, but no data can prove a correlation.  

Gauri initially chose the Biomedical Research pathway (over Engineering) but now plans to pursue a creative career – a clear choice from this singer and classical Indian dancer. A hospital internship helped Gauri realize she is happier focusing on her creative passions. So for her time at Design Central, our seasoned designers are helping Gauri experience a day in the life of a designer built around her creative interests. She can attend internal brainstorming sessions, assist in prototyping, learn sketching techniques and observe project work, giving her experiences and insight to make decisions about her future career.

We are halfway through our time with Gauri and she tells us her product development internship is anything but disappointing. She enjoys drawing, so naturally, she's excited to experiment with software like Sketchbook. Packaging design is a fascination, so Gauri is shadowing a packaging expert to witness contrasting packaging programs. She says one of the most enjoyable parts of this internship is "seeing the team's passion for design." Initially, Gauri found it surprising how everyone in the studio is so "friendly but focused" but is now inspired by how everyone enjoys themselves yet gets so much work done. Is Gauri another industrial designer in the making? We hope so!

For more information contact info@designcentral.com