Tesla provides boost to STEM initiatives at CCSD

Tesla provides boost to STEM initiatives at CCSD

The Clark County School District, in its recently adopted five-year strategic plan, committed to strengthen partnerships with higher education institutions and business leaders to focus on apprenticeships and career and technical education programs that align with community job needs.

The College, Career, Equity, and School Choice Unit at CCSD works to ensure all students have access to quality programs that lead to marketable skills for the 21st century.

One of the many companies that CCSD partners with to boost its career and technical initiatives is Tesla, which is contributing $37.5 million over five years to K-12 education in Nevada.

“The demand for STEM jobs in Nevada will continue to grow dramatically over the next few years,” JB Straubel, Tesla’s chief technology officer, said in July when the company announced an initial $1.5 million in funding grants to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). “That is why we’re investing in initiatives that inspire students to choose a career in STEM and sustainability, and give them a foundation for success.”

One of the important College, Career, Equity, and School Choice Unit programs is the Career and Technical Education’s (CTE) Girls in Tech initiative. This program seeks to get more girls interested in STEM-related careers that currently are predominantly comprised of men. In February, about 20 female students from Kenny C. Guinn Middle School participated in an all-day event at Tesla’s Southern Nevada retail center to learn more about engineering and career opportunities in this field for women.

Snehal Bhakta, a project facilitator in CCSD’s CTE department, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the goal is to share with young female students the different opportunities with which they may not be familiar: “Whether it’s related to engineering, technology, all those high-wage, in-demand careers that are available here in Southern Nevada.”

A female student who attended the event said it was inspiring. “It gives you someone to look up to – you can look up to male figures but having someone you can relate to in certain ways is tremendous,” said a middle school student who was interviewed by Channel 13 for its Raising the Bar series on education.

In recognition of the fact that three out of four high school graduates in Nevada do not go to a four-year college or university, CCSD has forged a partnership with Workforce Connections, labor unions and businesses to work together on ways to ensure that employers have the skilled workers they need to succeed.

An example of how these partnerships can flourish can be seen with Tesla, which is expanding its Gigafactory I in Sparks and recruiting Nevada high school graduates to work there.

Tesla’s apprenticeship program was sparked by a Tesla executive’s tour of CCSD’s Southeast Career and Technical Academy, where students were learning about and building basic robotics systems.

“I’ll never forget leaving that school and saying, ‘We need a program,’ ‘’ Chris Reilly, head of workforce development and education programs at Tesla, told the Review-Journal.

Tesla’s $37.5 million investment in Nevada schools will have long-term benefits. “The grant from Tesla is a game changer,” Kerry Larnerd, CTE director of CCSD, told the Review-Journal. “It’s getting us into the world our kids live in.”

If you would like more information on how to partner with CCSD, please visit ccsd.net/community/partnership or contact the School-Community Partnership Program at (702) 799-6560.