Updated 04/23/2011 01:53 PM
Connect a Million Minds: The new cool
This is the pit at a recent First tournament in San Diego and it's here that Amir Abo-Shaeer and his 32 member team spend countless hours tinkering, tweaking and re-programming their sleek, sophisticated robot. That bot may be the focus at the competition but it's not the focus of the former engineer's program -- the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy, which he designed to serve one purpose.
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"To introduce people to engineering, students to engineering and science. Give them an exciting, kind of hands-on experience to science," he said.
And not just on the technical side. Located in Goleta California, The engineering academy located within Dos Pueblos High School is actually run BY THE STUDENTS as a business.
"We write grants, put out press releases, we do the apparel, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
if they were in a venture capital meeting and they were a small business and they were presenting their work product and trying to get funding. We do the same thing. We present our work product which is the students, our robot, our projects, and the people look at this and say you know this is such a innovative education offering or experience we want to help this come to the forefront," Amir said.
The capstone of the program is Team 1717, D'Penguineers -- an all senior, all-rookie team that's made it to nationals 4 times in the past 6 years. This year will be number 5. They are also the subject of the book The New Cool, which has already been optioned for a movie. But forget going Hollywood, these kids are going other places -- MIT, Berkley and Cal Tech. And the program is going places too, increasing in size from 32 students to a hundred. More kids in, means more future innovators out.
"Definitely signifies that we have more students that are becoming interested and then going on to become engineers or scientists and that type. And that's definitely, I think, beneficial to our country as a whole," said Amir.
Time Warner Cable is the parent company of YNN and we are committed to the Connect a Million Minds program, inspiring youth to develop science, technology, engineering and math skills. YNN wants to recognize local middle and high school students with a new Connect a Million Minds student of the month award. For more information on the initiative, go to connectamillionminds.com.