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Dos Pueblos High Dedicates Its New Elings Center for Engineering Education

Supporters descend on campus to celebrate opening of $6 million complex and expansion of engineering program

By Alanna Kjoller, Dos Pueblos High School Charger Account | @ChargerAccount | updated logo |

With the symbolic cutting of the ribbon, Virgil Elings officially opened the Elings Center for Engineering Education on Saturday afternoon during a public ceremony at Dos Pueblos High School.

“We are so thrilled to be opening the Elings Center for Engineering Education for it to accommodate the expanding Dos Pueblos High School Engineering Academy,” said Shawn Carey, Dos Pueblos’ principal.

The building, built with state-matching funds and $3 million in private donations, including a $1 million donation by Elings, will be the new home to the nationally recognized Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy.

“This year the academy was able to enroll 108 freshman as opposed to only 32 in the past,” said Amir Abo-Shaeer, the academy’s director. “As the increased enrollment continues, within four years, the new building will allow the academy to serve over 400 students, as opposed to the 128 we were able to serve.”

Hundreds of students, families, supporters and Santa Barbara Unified School District personnel joined Elings for the opening ceremony. After the ribbon was cut, the participants were invited inside to view the building, which took $6 million and years of effort to produce.

“Projects are different, projects have an end,” said Elings, founder of Digital Instruments. “Things can go wrong, things don’t go wrong and you really learn a lot more.”

The building, built by Frank Schipper Construction Co., has taken a little over a year to complete.

Inside is a machine shop, a prototype room, the Raytheon Engineering Laboratory, the Change Happens Meeting Room, the Lindsey Rose Mechanical Engineering Classroom and the computer classroom.

There are numerous lathes and mills for the machine room and new computers for the computer room. The expansive building will allow for future students to be a part of the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy experience.

“The new facility is not only expressly designed for the needs of the academy students, but will allow us to extend the benefits of the academy experience to more than 400 students over the next four years,” Carey said.

As a result of the new building’s greater size, the unique hands-on experience that the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy provides will be able to affect more students’ lives than it has in the past. The project-based learning philosophy that the academy believes in will revolutionize education, officials say.

“We are replacing what I consider to be the traditional educational practice where students have a vast amount of information to memorize, most of it completely unrelated to the world in which they live, and replacing that with excellence, rigor, relevance and project-based learning here at the Engineering Academy,” said Santa Barbara schools Superintendent David Cash.

Abo-Shaeer summed up his thoughts.

“So now we begin the next chapter in this, which is really to take what we’ve got here in this facility and reforming transforming education and doing it here,” he said.

Click here for more information on the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy. Click here to make an online donation to the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy Foundation.

— Alanna Kjoller is a student at Dos Pueblos High School and a staff writer for The Charger Account. Connect with The Charger Account on Facebook. Follow The Charger Account on Twitter: @ChargerAccount. This article is republished with permission.

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