Oracle just opened a charter high school at its headquarters

Key Points
  • Oracle now has a public charter high school on its Redwood City, California, headquarters.
  • Students at the Design Tech High School can get mentorship from Oracle employees, intern at Oracle and take classes on topics like wearables.
  • Other tech companies like Facebook, Salesforce and Google are also investing heavily in education, attempting to get students STEM skills needed for the future.
Tech giant Oracle opens public charter school on its campus
Tech giant Oracle opens public charter school on its campus

Joelene Latief is only a senior in high school, and already has a patent of her own. She and a friend designed an anti-theft purse, and Oracle helped them apply for the patent.

Latief attends the Design Tech High School in Redwood City, California. The public charter high school opened the doors of its new $43 million building on Oracle's campus on Tuesday. It's virtually indistinguishable from the tall curved office buildings lining Oracle's campus, except for the crowds of teenagers walking the halls.

Design Tech has been around since 2014, and Oracle has been involved from the beginning, but this is the first time the school is directly on Oracle's campus. Students like Latief will be able to get mentorship from Oracle employees, intern at the company and take classes on topics like wearables.

In true Silicon Valley fashion, students also have access to a two-story workshop space called "design realization garage," where they can work on product prototypes.

Oracle's not the only tech company investing in education. Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Salesforce are all trying to make students more tech literate. Data from the Pew Research Center cites a national shortage of software engineers, and also shows that U.S. students trail their peers internationally in STEM achievement.

Facebook's Primary school and Microsoft's School of the Future both serve low-income students. Facebook is also making efforts to help students and parents learn to code through a website called TechPrep. The social media giant is also working with computer science teachers on curriculum. (In 2010, Mark Zuckerberg also donated $100 million to the Newark, New Jersey, public school system.)

Salesforce has pledged $100 million to San Francisco Public schools. CEO Marc Benioff treats the fund like a VC, meeting with principals.

Google is taking a different approach — which is getting its products into classrooms. Half of primary and secondary students in the U.S. now use Google apps and Chromebooks in the classroom.

The Design Tech High School is dedicated to teach fundamentals of design and problem solving. When Oracle announced it would build a new home for the school on its campus, it called on students to give input on the institution's design and construction.

Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz told students at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday that their vision for the school is still not finished. "Throughout the country, you will all be ambassadors for the future of education," Catz said.

While it may seem the students are being primed to someday work for Oracle, the company said that's not the point.

"It's a long-term leap of faith," said Colleen Cassity of the Oracle Education Foundation. "You try and make the best intervention that you can, and you do it in a way that is intellectually rigorous and you think is going to be effective.

Students whose parents work at Oracle won't get preference for enrollment, the company said. As a public charter high school, any student can apply to attend through a lottery system.

The proximity to Oracle gives students some other perks, the company is lending out its employee shuttles to use as school buses and the basketball team will practice at the company's fitness center.