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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

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Andrew Ingle working with students at Pride Academy in Santee. Andrew Ingle working with students at Pride Academy in Santee.

Exploring STEM Careers

The Exploring STEM Careers Initiative engages students in engineering challenges from a young age.
By Chelsea Baer

Since 2012, the Exploring STEM Careers Initiative has worked to engage students with science, technology, engineering and mathematics in unique ways. The program is based at the San Diego State University Research Foundation, through a grant from The National Science Foundation in collaboration with San Diego Science Alliance.

This school year, the program has recruited 38 middle and high school teachers from 26 schools in San Diego County to lead students in an engineering project. The goal is to leave a lasting impact on students and engage their interest in areas of STEM.

SDSU electrical engineering major Andrew Ingle works as a research assistant for the ESCI program. He currently visits 37 classes in eight school districts in the San Diego region to advise students and teachers on programming robots.

He recently visited Valhalla High School to mentor an ESCI student team on building, coding and designing robots to complete tasks for the “Botball” competition. Botball is a hands-on competition that allows students to use STEM skills to design, build and program robots. According to Ingle, the technology culture is shifting to teaching students at a young age and giving them a structure to guide them.

The goal behind ESCI is for teachers to practice implementing an engineering challenge and then form a team of students to design, build and compete. Nearly 500 middle and high school students are participating in after-school ESCI teams this school year.

In an effort to promote awareness of how critical it is to have thriving engineering programs, and to recognize the work being done by engineers around the world, Feb. 22 through 28 has been named Discover Engineers Week.

“The project gets kids involved in the programming and engineering process early on,” Ingle said. “I wish I had this opportunity when I was growing up.”

When he isn’t in class or mentoring local middle and high school students, Ingle volunteers with the League of Amazing Programmers, where he teaches kids programming skills and prepares them for an Advanced Placement test.

“It is great to see volunteers coming together to create a community,” Ingle said.