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Businesses in Central Oregon have an opportunity to work with youth from computer science classes in local high schools in an internship setting

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Jeff Kerr, of Meandering Maker, displays a recent template of a sign created on his laser cutter. This is one example of a business technology that requires programming and computer expertise. The Oregon State University - Cascades Innovation Co-Lab and Central Oregon STEM Hub are partnering to offer a unique summer opportunity for a pilot group of computer science high school students from Crook County High School, Redmond High School and Summit High School.

Businesses in Central Oregon have an opportunity to work with youth from computer science classes in local high schools in an internship setting.

Crook County High School students are among students from other high schools in Central Oregon to qualify for this internship opportunity with OSU Cascades in the strand of computer technology. Ryan Cochran, CTE coordinator for CCHS, commented that Crook County has several students who will be participating.

The Oregon State University - Cascades Innovation Co-Lab and Central Oregon STEM Hub are partnering to offer a unique summer opportunity for a pilot group of computer science high school students from Crook County High School, Redmond High School and Summit High School.

The Central Oregon STEM Hub is part of the CTE-STEM team at the High Desert Education Service District. The two work together to connect education concepts to careers. The Central Oregon STEM Hub, a program of the High Desert Education Service District, connects regional Pre-K-12 education systems, higher education, community organizations, and business and industry partners to align, enhance, and catalyze new opportunities and exploration in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Through the summer opportunity that connects high school students with technology opportunities through businesses and community partners, up to 15 students will have the opportunity to work on projects that build job skills and career connections over a 13-week period during this summer. 

"We're looking for business and community partners who have a project for these students to tackle," said Tracy Willson-Scott, coordinator of the Central Oregon STEM Hub. "If they don't have a project but want to participate as our initial champions, they can also donate to have a project completed for a local nonprofit."

According to Willson-Scott, the hope is for the summer pilot project to grow into an ongoing partnership opportunity for high school students to learn alongside OSU-Cascade's students, faculty and local business professionals.

The Co-Lab will support students by helping them draft their resumes, teaching them important job skills through real-world projects, and mentoring them about the relationship between college majors, job skills and careers. The Oregon State University - Cascades Innovation Co-Lab is a department of OSU-Cascades that helps companies and nonprofits build new products and services. They work with professionals in the community to grow businesses or nonprofits, regardless of what stage they are in.

Open to the public, the result is helping clients to build and sell new innovations, which results in job creation. It also helps clients get funding and contributes to growing the economy in Oregon.

"Our goal is to guide students as they take on real-world projects for clients by teaching them how to understand a scope of work, manage a project timeline and communicate," said Adam Krynicki, executive director at Oregon State University-Cascades Innovation Co-Lab.

STEM Pathways Program students will be working on two types of projects, which include client consulting projects and community projects. The former projects will include researching industry/market trends, building data integrations using a variety of software, building data dashboards, or creating simple mobile or web apps using tools like Bubble, Airtable or Stacker.

The latter will involve having students help local nonprofits or municipalities with their software, data integration or other computing needs.

Willson-Scott indicated that these projects are paid internships.

"This is not a formal internship between student and business, the model is project-based 'micro-internships.' The students are employees of the Co-Lab/OSU-Cascades, where they complete projects for businesses with guidance from the Co-Lab executive director, fellow Co-Lab participants (high school and college students), and OSU-C instructors," she went on to say.

Although a paid internship, college credit is not awarded for the work. This pilot opportunity is only available to students at Crook County High School, Redmond High School and Summit High School.

"We plan to continue beyond summer 2021 with this partnership, including a new cohort of students in the fall," said Willson-Scott. "We believe this model is replicable beyond computer or tech related projects and will be assessing how we can implement something similar into other sectors."

"We're excited to help students build connections that might inspire them to make Central Oregon their home and become part of the local skilled workforce after graduation," concluded Willson-Scott.

Sidebar

Business/community leaders interested in submitting a project (deadline June 21) or sponsoring a student, can visit the STEM Pathways Program or contact Adam Krynicki with the OSU-Cascades Innovation Co-Lab or Tracy Willson-Scott with the CO STEM Hub.

More info may be found for OSU-Cascades Innovation Co-Lab at https://osucascades.edu/co-lab.

More info may be found for STEM Pathways Program at https://centraloregonstem.org/.


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