By Richard Irwin, Staff Writer
Robots roamed the room, optical and ultrasonic sensors silently guiding them around obstacles. Sierra Vista students continued to work on electronic circuit boards, building security alarms, cooling fans and other whirligigs.
Others displayed the video games and computer coding they had constructed themselves. All were proud of the engineering accomplishments the seventh and eighth graders have achieved thanks to the Makerspace lab sponsored by the Alcoa Foundation.
“We’ve seen significant increases in attendance and math scores, as well a rising interest in careers in science and engineering,” said Principal Terry Ceja .
The La Puente middle school was celebrating the second anniversary of the innovative program. Sierra Vista is one of only two Makerspace labs in Southern California.
“We couldn’t have done it without close to $40,000 in grants from the Alcoa Foundation,” Ceja said.
“We want to get our students interested in science and math. These are the aerospace workers of the future,” agreed Gwen Moore, human resources director for Alcoa’s plant in Industry.
The Alcoa official said the company has been impressed with the growth of the program over the past year. It now offers two classes for seventh graders as well as an advanced class for eighth graders.
“We need more engineers. Anything we can do to get the students interested in a technical career is good for everyone,” said Jeff Railton, engineering manager at Alcoa Fastening Systems.
The local company makes a variety of aerospace fasteners. The local plant employs about 350 workers, but it’s always looking for more highly skilled workers.
Read more in Rich Irwin’s story MAKERSPACE.