“Upon the subject of education – I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people may be engaged in.” – Abraham Lincoln (Quote of the Day for Workshop #3)
With an eye to the theme of “Trends in Technology & Innovation, the Leadership Tomorrow Education day 2016 started off at The Cove, UCI Applied Innovation where our panel of experts from local school districts spoke and shared about their respective districts. Panelist Kellie Pendergast, from the Irvine Public Schools Foundation, startled the LT class when she stated, “65% of grade school kids will end up working in jobs that don’t even exist yet.” Robert Craven, from the Tustin Unified School District shared that more than 400 of their teachers are now trained in new student-centered technology that is making a big difference in the district’s education of students. Another eye-opening fact, that was shared by Kellie was that there are over 75 different languages spoken in the city of Irvine and what a difficult challenge that is for the school district.
Following the Education Panel, the Leadership Tomorrow class took a tour of the UCI Applied Innovation facility hosted by Carolyn Stephens, Assistant Director of Applied Innovation. Ms. Stephens explained how the center helps to create intellectual property for use in the public domain. She pointed out that over 36,000 people go through the center each year and they work to go from proof of product to market with hundreds of new products. The Cove is the new center of innovation in Orange County and growing by leaps and bounds each year!
A stop to the UCI Mind (Institute for Mental Impairments and Neurological Disorders) that researches diseases like Alzheimer’s was next on the agenda. Did you know that Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death for adults in the US?? UCI Mind is one of 31 specialized Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers (ADRC) in the country and the only one in Orange County, which is home to 84,000 people with Alzheimer’s. During the presentation, each class member was given an opportunity to hold and take a close look at an actual human brain. Greater relevance was recognized when it was pointed out that by the year 2050 there will be 16 million cases of Alzheimer’s disease in the United States, and currently there is no cure… truly there is much work to do!
The LT class then headed to Orange County United Way, Irvine where Sergio Contreras, Director of Education & Work-Based Learning, met them. Mr. Contreras led the class in an interactive activity that highlighted the challenges that derail people who are on track to graduate from college. Some of the things that got in the way were family members needing help, financial challenges of life and paying for college, poor academic preparation for college and other items in and out of their control. By the end of the activity, only a small number of people actually graduated from college and got good paying jobs. This activity was important in light of the fact that was shared – we will need 1 million career-ready college graduates by 2025! Currently, the Orange County United Way and other partners are working to reduce the high school drop off rate by 50%.
Education Day ended at the Advanced Technology & Education Park (ATEP) with – Corine Doughty, Dean of Instruction, Economic & Workforce Development. Ms. Doughty gave the LT class a tour of the laser optics and photonics lab and explained how the program is helping students be hired right into high tech jobs locally and throughout California. The class had the opportunity to tour and learn more about the various labs and design studios that exist to prepare students for the next level of jobs – high tech and innovation. The center is expanding in the next few years to be over twice the size and should be able to serve twice the number of students.