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Effort Boosts Engineering


SWE at PLTW Info Conference
During the Information Conference at Cal Poly Pomona in October 2009,
students from the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) spoke about ongoing outreach efforts to raise awareness about engineering to high school students.

Cal Poly Pomona is doing its best to create the next generation of engineers.

The university's College of Engineering hosted a free Project Lead The Way Conference where educators built partnerships with local schools to prepare an increasing and more diverse group of students to be successful in engineering programs.

More than 40 teachers, community college and university administrators attended the conference Friday at Cal Poly.

"We need to better prepare students into high-tech fields of science and engineering so we can have a technologically competitive work force in California," said Cordelia Ontiveros, associate dean at Cal Poly's College of Engineering.

Project Lead The Way is a nonprofit organization that partners with public schools, organizations in the private sector and higher education institutions to increase the number and quality of engineers graduating from the educational system to succeed and lead in an increasingly competitive high-tech, high-skilled global economy.

The PLTW curriculum was first introduced in 12 New York state high schools in 1997. Today, the program is offered in over 3,000 schools in all 50 states. San Diego State and Cal Poly are the only two universities that offer the program in California.

The conference, which is offered three times a year at Cal Poly, included how PLTW would be implemented into classrooms, as well as the push to encourage more women to join the primarily male-driven field.

"It's important for women to know they should not be afraid to approach this major," said Angelica Gomez, fourth-year computer engineer major.

Gomez, who also belongs to the Society of Women Engineers, said the field can be intimidating to females, especially when they find themselves the only female in an all-male class.

"But that's what SWE is for," she said. "The club is about 60percent female and 40percent male, which is good because we know they support us."

Also, Ontiveros said PLTW has developed a program to help recruit more women into the engineering field called "Focus Your Future."

Locally, Pomona High, as well as three Pomona middle schools, Upland High School and Pioneer Junior High and Don Lugo High in Chino have implemented PLTW programs into their curriculum.

Pomona High's Paul Rodriguez said since the school introduced PLTW curriculum he's seen a difference in his students.

"They're more motivated and they see the purpose to what they're doing," he said. "The curriculum is career oriented, allows the students to work in groups and it helps develop skills that prepare them for college."

Article originally appeared in Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Staff Writer, Canan Tasci


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