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A group of Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy (DPEA) students and staff presented at the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) EDU Conference in Austin, Texas, this week.

DPEA Founder Amir Abo-Shaeer, a MacArthur Fellow, DPEA Director Emily Shaeer, and a group of 18 others presented the unique and engaging model to people from around the world. 

DPEA is a four-year Career Technical Education (CTE) program based at Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta. It applies a project-and-design-based approach to teach students critical analytical, design, and problem-solving skills. Students complete two CTE Pathways through the program coursework: Engineering Technology and Product Innovation & Design. 

“I was inspired by the outpouring of requests from other educational leaders who see us as an exemplar and are seeking guidance and professional development to leverage our innovative work to bring transformative change to their own educational organizations,” said Amir Abo-Shaeer, DPEA Founder and MacArthur Fellow in Residence.

Tuesday’s workshop presentation introduced a variety of educational initiatives that will benefit the community in the Virgil Elings Center for Creative Learning when it opens later this year on the Dos Pueblos High School campus. It will feature a professional gallery showcasing interactive STEAM exhibits designed and fabricated by students. 

“This whole experience has opened my eyes to how advanced and sophisticated this academy is and has shown how lucky I am to have gotten this opportunity to be a part of this academy,” said DPEA senior Chloe Johansson Hoffman.

DPEA also hosted an interactive booth at the EXPO trade show on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Attendees engaged with student-created exhibits, learned to use a mill and a lathe, explored DPEA’s elementary STEAM curriculum, and perused DPEA-integrated CTE High School curriculum and projects.

“A lot of people come out of the booth wanting to potentially start up something similar or take some of the concepts of how the academy runs and see if something like that will work in their hometowns,” said DPEA Senior Kevin Ramirez-Giron.

The 20 people attending the conference included five staff members, a DPEA Foundation Board member, a student teacher, an intern from SBCC, and 12 students.

“People from across the country – and from other countries – are moved by our vision for education, and they want to benefit from all that it promises to offer educators and students. They continue to comment on our students’ remarkable professionalism and technical expertise, and they want to learn how they can cultivate similar passion and proficiency in the students in their school communities,” said DPEA Director Emily Shaeer.

SXSW EDU is an annual four-day conference and festival for educators in March. 


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