Wake County Schools

Wake schools up to Obama's technology education challenge

Posted June 14, 2011 3:09 p.m. EDT
Updated June 14, 2011 6:57 p.m. EDT

— As if responding to President Barack Obama's call Monday for a greater effort to train people for technology careers, Wake County school officials on Tuesday added to its network of specialized science and math schools.

During a visit to the Triangle, Obama unveiled an "all-hands-on-deck strategy" to train about 10,000 people a year for high-tech jobs, including more support for university programs in the so-called STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math and internships and incentives for students.

"We know that, if we are going to maintain our leadership in technology and innovation, our best companies need the world's brightest workers," the president said.

Some local schools are already on track to move students into technology majors in college. The Wake County Public School System already has 13 STEM schools and added seven more Tuesday.

"How we prepare our students today will determine our economic future," Superintendent Tony Tata said.

Despite a tight budget for 2011-12, Tata pushed to add the new STEM schools through a competitive application process.

"Children will be better prepared for the job environment that they are going to face in the 21st century," he said.

The new STEM schools are Hilburn Drive, York and Aversboro elementary schools, Carroll and East Wake middle schools and Knightdale and Middle Creek high schools.

The school district also is partnering with North Carolina State University on a new early college program that will allow students to complete advanced high school and college courses at the same time.

The STEM network provides students with science, technology, engineering and math opportunities from kindergarten through high school.

"It's very exciting to see the program expand," said Sebastian Shipp, principal of the East Wake School of Engineering Systems, where every freshman takes an engineering course.

"It's a way to give students a chance to experience what it means to be an engineer, (to learn) how engineers think," Shipp said.