Six Nations Polytechnic is launching an innovative academy that expects to offer students the ability to earn high school and college diplomas focused on science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
The STEAM Academy will be based out of the school’s Brantford campus on Elgin Street and is accepting 50 Grade 9 students to start in September.
Graduates of the free six-year program will leave with a high school diploma and are expected to earn a software engineering technician diploma from Mohawk College.
“It’s a unique setup,” said the school’s principal, Brian Quistberg. “We’re hoping the grads here will be more prepared for the job market.”
He noted that up to 70 per cent of the jobs in the future in Canada will need STEAM-based expertise.
For some graduates, the program could be a stepping-stone to further higher education and for others, they may be able to go directly into the workforce.
“We’re quite excited … there is not another school like it here,” Quistberg said.
The team is working on forming the program, which will include provincially mandated high school curriculum and, starting in Grade 10, college courses each year. Classes are expected to be “very hands-on and interactive,” with mentorship from industry professionals.
Mohawk College is a long-standing partner of Six Nations Polytechnic, offering a number of joint programs.
Paul Armstrong, vice-president academic, said Mohawk has developed an outline of the curriculum for the STEAM program and is working through the approval process with its board of governors and the province. It’s expected to be finalized in a couple of months.
“Philosophically, it’s a great opportunity and, philosophically, we love the model,” he said, adding that Mohawk is a firm believer in “dual credit” programs, which allow for high school and college together, and getting more young people interested in science, engineering and technology.
The program is funded through a mix of public and private dollars and is open to students of all backgrounds.
The school is arranging bus transportation for students from Ohsweken.
Quistberg has already visited some Grade 8 classes in Six Nations of the Grand River and a skilled-trades jobs event in Brantford.
For the first year, enrolment is first-come first-served, but that may change in future years as the program is anticipated to grow to up to 75 students a year and 450 students total.
The academy is also hosting a one-day camp for youth 12 and up who are interested in science, technology, engineering, arts and math on June 3. Call the school to register.