Lynwood, Calif. – Lynwood Unified doesn’t go by the book when it comes to preparing students for their futures. The District is taking a hands-on approach and providing students with a vast array of career experience long before they ever have to prepare a resume or college application.

The District has developed an extensive Engineering Pathway that provides a coordinated pipeline of coursework and career technical experience. It begins in middle school and takes students through high school and into higher education and careers. Using curriculum and materials from Project Lead the Way (PLTW), the country’s leading engineering curriculum provider, Lynwood Unified this year began implementing the Gateway Program at its three middle schools, exposing eighth-graders to a variety of engineering fields so they have a head start when they continue in the Engineering Pathways at Firebaugh and Lynwood high schools.

“This really is a comprehensive program that prepares students for each level of their education, including the rigors of higher education,” said Lynwood Unified Board of Education President Briseida Gonzalez, MSW. “It’s so exciting that our students have this wonderful opportunity to learn about engineering and the vast number of industries within this career field, while engaging in curriculum that is tied to the rigorous Common Core State Standards.”

Students Enter ‘Gateway’ to High School
Current eighth-graders enrolled in the Gateway Program at Hosler, Lynwood and Chavez middle schools are taking a Design & Modeling course in which they use cutting edge software to apply the design process and solve problems. Throughout the year, they will work in teams to design playgrounds and home furniture in their engineering notebooks and devise solutions to various problems and challenges.

“This class is really fun because we use our computers every day and learn about math and science and engineering, instead of just one subject,” said Angelica Parra, an eighth-grader at Lynwood Middle School.

The class also introduces students to the variety of industries within engineering so they have an idea of what they would like to focus on in high school. Next year, Lynwood Unified will introduce a second class for seventh-graders – Automation and Robotics – in which they learn about the concepts of energy transfer, mechanical systems and computer control systems by engaging in real-world projects to build, design and program items such as traffic lights, toll booths and robotic arms.

“As a school district, we’re responsible for ensuring our students are competitive on their college applications and resumes,” said Superintendent Paul Gothold. “These hands-on, project-based courses expose students to real world scenarios and introduce them to potential and in demand career fields that will allow them to flourish in higher education and competitive careers.”

Engineering: Preparing Students for the Rigors of College
Firebaugh and Lynwood high schools are in the third year of implementing the Engineering Pathway, which begins with Introduction to Engineering Design and moves on to Principles of Engineering. The third-year course at Lynwood High is Computer Science and Software Engineering, while the class at Firebaugh is Digital Electronics. Both pathways culminate students’ last year of high school with Engineering Design and Development.

“I have students who had never thought about a career in engineering who are now looking to study the field in college,” said John Ude, Firebaugh High engineering teacher. “They’re learning about how core subjects such as math apply to the real world and taking their own ideas and using the design process to turn those ideas into tangible products.”

The District has been forming important partnerships with local colleges and universities to offer additional opportunities for students.

Through a partnership with the Long Beach State Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Firebaugh High, in collaboration with Lynwood High hosted the Noche de Ciencias, or Science Night, this month, featuring student and parent workshops on college preparation and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Thanks to partnerships with Cerritos and El Camino community colleges, Lynwood Unified’s high school students may take part in dual enrollment programs that allow them to earn college credits while pursuing their high school diploma.

Students at Firebaugh, Lynwood and Vista high schools have the opportunity to take college-level engineering classes at the Firebaugh campus, due to the District’s close partnership and collaboration with El Camino College. Through Cerritos College, students can take classes on the college campus to earn college credits and professional certifications concurrently with their grade school education.

Diego Flores, a senior at Lynwood High School, has completed 18 units of credit at Cerritos College and is currently working on four more. He has also passed the courses and testing to become certified in SolidWorks, a computer aided design system used by engineers and designers at hundreds of thousands of companies across the world.

“This pathway is a huge part of my life,” Flores said. “I’m ahead of the game in terms of my education, but I also get to meet new friends who are already in college. It’s really beneficial and I really enjoy this program.”