SUNNYVALE, Calif., Oct. 21, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Cogswell College, one of the world's leading regionally-accredited institutions offering a curriculum that fuses digital arts, engineering and entrepreneurship, today announced the launch of an after school program with San Jose's Independence High School. The program engages students in a project-based learning environment led by Cogswell faculty and features classes modeled on Cogswell curriculum that is redesigned to suit the needs of Independence High students. The courses include: digital painting, audio production, software engineering and video game design.
"The goal of this program is to get students excited about something they might initially think is boring," says Abraham Chacko, executive director of admissions and facilitator for the after school program at Cogswell College. "These are kids from the Silicon Valley," Chacko continues. "When they hear the word 'engineering,' they think 'I don't want to have a job like my parents,' but when you mention Disney, Pixar or video games and the job opportunities associated with them, they become excited about learning programming and engineering skills."
The demand for skilled engineers in the U.S. continues to grow, with engineering degree holders experiencing some of the best job prospects in the country straight out of college. Jack Aiello is a Project Lead The Way trained instructor who teaches Introduction Engineering Design at Independence High, and is coordinator of the pre-engineering program, Space Technology Engineering Academy Magnet (STEAM). He serves as the faculty facilitator for the after-school program, in partnership with Chacko and uses a project-based, individualized teaching method similar to Cogswell's.
"The ability to connect and engage our students in Cogswell's environment is incredible," says Aiello. "Running a class with 25 students working in a project-based environment is more advantageous than a traditional teaching model with lectures or video presentations at the front of a classroom of 35 or more students. The hands-on computer and audio equipment, programming tools and Industry experienced instructors available at Cogswell allow our students an exciting peek into the real world of the digital creative arts. At the end of each of our two hour weekly sessions at Cogswell, the students walk away with a feeling of accomplishment and pride for what they have created. They are enthusiastic and look forward to coming back next week. Our students are on the consumer side of the 'Digital Divide', many from immigrant families that use technology, social media and video games, but don't know how to leverage the technology to create something NEW; such as designing a video game, making an animated movie, or producing their own music."
Independence High School, located in San Jose, is one of the largest high schools in Northern California, with a student body of approximately 3200 for the 2013-2014 year, and is part of the East Side Union High School District. The current after school session accommodates 50 students, about 55% male and 45% female. The high school is one of about 400 State of California school participants in the California Partnership Academies (CPA) program. The program stresses rigorous academics and career technical education, with a career focus. Academies boasts one of the highest graduation rates (95%) in the state, attributing this to their focus on pre-engineering and technical education programs and smaller learning communities.
"The response to participate in this program has been encouraging," says Grettel Castro-Stanley, principal at Independence High School. "We have 50 kids who are excited to ride a bus, often for over an hour and a half in traffic, to spend just two hours of engaged classroom time at Cogswell." She adds that the waiting list to attend the Thursday classes is over 25, and growing.
The after school project is a shared endeavor between Cogswell and Independence, made possible for the high school through a five year grant from Goodwill that includes funding for tutoring and other after-school programs.
About Cogswell College
Located in Sunnyvale, Calif., in the heart of the Silicon Valley, Cogswell College is an accredited four-year institution of higher education with a curriculum that fuses art, engineering and entrepreneurship (http://www.cogswell.edu/academics/programs.php). As one of the Bay Area's premier colleges, its novel academic approach offers an integrated model that emulates the industry environment—a collaborative, project-based, learning approach that uses multidisciplinary teams to take projects from concept through the delivery pipeline.
Cogswell alumni have gone on to careers with Activision, DreamWorks, Disney, Electronic Arts, Pixar and Microsoft Game Studio as well as starting their own creative ventures.