STEM cohort exposes students to fundamentals

Rudrik Suthar, Times Staff

This semester San Jose City College implemented their second STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) core cohort as part of Silicon Valley Engineering Tech Pathways grant.

Four core classes make up the curriculum: geometry, intermediate algebra, python programming and an algebra boot camp. A newsletter from the department’s Student Support Specialist, Tam Nguyen, displayed the progress that the STEM cohort has made.

“The intention is to support students as they advance to calculus and to potentially provide internship opportunities with local tech companies,” Nguyen said. “After they reach calculus, the students will have ‘graduated’ the program with the skills to be successful through calculus and beyond.”

Before classes began this fall, the cohort had an orientation where students had the chance to mingle, meet the associated staff and get their questions regarding STEM answered. In addition, they were put to a hands-on activity which reinforced the cohort’s curriculum.

“They taught me mathematics, and in my second programming class I started to warm up to it; it’s something that I can possibly do,” said Willie Santos, a Cyber Defenders Intern from the program.

Students who missed out in being a part of the cohort can catch up the following semester.

“I’ll be looking to recruit additional students for the spring 2018 semester, but they’d need to be eligible to start at precalculus/trig,” Nguyen said.

In addition to the next level math courses, an engineering design and graphics class will also be offered.

Of the 26 students that are enrolled this fall, 17 are first generation college students, nine are women, and one is a military veteran.

“After two semesters, students compete for paid internships at partner employers. Partner employers include NASA, Federal Labs, Lockheed and a number of smaller engineering and technology companies,” said Gabe Hanzel-Sello, program manager at Growth Sector, an organization enforcing the STEM curricula among community colleges.

The program previously made a group visit to the Tesla headquarters in Fremont earlier this semester, observing the manufacturing process behind the fully electric vehicles.

STEM Core also attended the 2017 Top 50 Most Powerful Women in Technology Awards Dinner, hosted by the National Diversity Council. This year’s theme for the dinner was “Cracking the code to success.” According to the STEM Cohort newsletter, the event served as a great place for students to have dinner and mingle with inspiring, professional women in the industry.