Thursday, June 22 , 2017, 6:15 am | Fog/Mist 57º

 
 
 
 

Capps Marvels at the Ingenuity of Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy

Congresswoman gets a firsthand look at the inner workings of the school as part of her tour of STEM programs in Santa Barbara County

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, visited the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy on Thursday morning as part of her tour of STEM programs in Santa Barbara County.

The academy’s Team 1717 has made it to the FIRST Robotics World Championships for seven straight years and came in sixth in St. Louis last weekend. This year’s competition focused on disc-throwing robots instead of the basketball-throwing robot that still hangs out in the Elings Center for Engineering Education workshop.

Capps visited the workshop and classrooms for lower-level classes where students learn the basics of programming and other engineering skills.

Students apply as eighth-graders, and the program culminates in the competition project senior year of high school.

DPEA Director Amir Abo-Shaeer has been developing a new curriculum and is excited to have students getting multiple years of hands-on experience before they become seniors.

“It was way too much to learn for one year,” he said.

He told Capps that the DPEA is important not just because of the practical engineering skills that students learn, but the critical thinking and problem-solving skills that can transfer to other fields.

It was easier to get students’ attention before the Internet, he said, and now educators have to show them school is worth it.

“We try to provide experiences they can’t get elsewhere,” Abo-Shaeer said.

Capps complimented the team’s skills, which expand beyond engineering into apparel design, public relations and fundraising. The academy and the DPEA Foundation get sponsors for most of the expenses.

Abo-Shaeer said the amount of ownership the students have for their projects is what sets the robots apart for judges — not that the programming is top tier.

Students in the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy work with marbles and wire to make attachments for their mobiles. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)
Students in the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy work with marbles and wire to make attachments for their mobiles. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

“The programming on that robot is so good, I don’t even know what they’re doing,” he said.

Presenting skills and communicating knowledge to judges is a big part of the team’s success, according to Abo-Shaeer.

The six students who demonstrated the robot to Capps — all seniors — are all attending California universities next year.

“I probably wouldn’t have found engineering without this academy,” Caroline Whelan said.

In the computer labs and classrooms of the Elings Center, students were creating kinetic sculptures and other projects that Abo-Shaeer and faculty members created from scratch.

“We’re not buying canned projects off a shelf — they’re totally unique,” he said, adding that they’re big believers in combining disciplines, too, and many of the projects are sculptures that require students to use art, design, CAD, computer science, programming and product development skills all at once.

Older students were helping younger ones, as well, something that made Capps note the lasting impact of the DPEA on its participants.

“They’re really part of a movement,” she said, adding that the field for science, technology, engineering and math careers is growing, and the DPEA is giving students the opportunity to explore those areas.

Reflecting back, she remembers when Dos Pueblos High School almost closed in 1989, because of a shrinking population. Abo-Shaeer was a junior there at the time and picketed to protest the closure, he said.

“They told me I would get suspended if I picketed, but I did it anyway — and I didn’t get suspended,” he said.

Click here for more information about the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook..

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.



Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >