Gavilan College Computer Graphics and Design (CGD) instructor Colette Marie McLaughlin was among 152 Industry Initiatives for Science and Math Education’s (IISME) educators who spent their summer vacations learning firsthand how the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) concepts they teach are applied in cutting edge industries. She and other IISME fellows are now heading back to classrooms, energized with real-world insights gained from completing projects for mentor organizations while developing curriculum for their students.
Dr. McLaughlin, who spent her fellowship at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company in Sunnyvale, will enhance her environmental design courses with a unit that features Hubble’s solar arrays as a “hook” for introducing students to the design of solar panels for their residential design projects.
McLaughlin is also thrilled to add a new workforce poster to her classroom bulletin boards. She was awarded a presentation poster of herself, working in Lockheed Martin high-tech manufacturing as part of a prize for winning 3rdplace in IISME’s photo contest. The poster showcases photos she provided of mentors helping her understand manufacturing processes needed for her project, producing training videos for technicians.
All of the IISME fellows spent most of their summers completing equally useful specialized projects for 43 high- tech sponsoring organizations, while simultaneously developing innovative coursework. Dr. McLaughlin’s experience is illustrative of how IISME’s industry-education partnerships support teaching and learning.
Lockheed Martin, her sponsor, has hosted a total of 374 fellows since IISME’s inception 29 years ago. Company Vice President Kevin Bilger explains why: “We’re gratified when we help teachers transfer the lessons learned back in to classroom to better prepare their students to become our next-generation of scientists and engineers." Bilger and several dozen Lockheed Martin mentors guided 20 fellows through the culture shock of learning industry vocabulary and skills. Bilger emphasized the need for teachers to use their real-world lessons to help students replace uncertainty to meet the challenges of today’s high teach industries.
McLaughlin explained how these assignments transformed the way she teaches, “These fellowships are like being paid to go to a summer camp for educators. I cannot imagine a more productive summer than spending time with dedicated educators and knowledgeable mentors developing strategies to better engage students when teaching complex concepts. I learned much about solar technologies and systems from exceptionally qualified engineers, technicians, inspectors, and other Lockheed Martin professionals. This experience also renewed my understanding that respect makes any job attainable. Similar to students, I was barraged with overwhelming new information. However, being treated as a valued member of their team made it easy to give far more than 100% to support what became a mutual goal for constant improvement The fellowships exposed me to subject matter experts whose complex assignments require an alpha-numeric soup of competencies, i.e. the three Rs, (Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic), STEM (Science, Math, Engineering and Technology) and 21st Century skills (AKA four Cs: Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, and Critical thinking). Educators need to engage and ensure students are fully literate. The fellowship also reinforced my passion for career technology education (CTE). CTE develops interdisciplinary applied technology skills because it requires students to apply academics while gaining technical skills required for success in high-skilled high-demand jobs.”
McLaughlin will continue to apply knowledge she gained this summer as she prepares Gavilan students with applied technology skills to enter fields of graphic design, architecture, engineering and other careers that design, engineer, manufacture, and market real and/or virtual products. Project-based activities help her students develop design skills while gaining technical graphics expertise. Her courses provide career and transfer options, incorporate theories and principles to support design, including instruction on SolidWorks, Adobe Design Suite, BIM and/or other commonly used computer graphics applications.
McLaughlin heads Gavilan College’s department of Computer Graphic and Design (CGD). She is returning for her sixth year of developing and teaching CGD courses that include: 2D/3D Technical Computer Graphics, Advanced Computer Graphics for Design Applications, Environmental Design and Technical Desktop Publishing and Graphics. Gavilan College CGD students may pursue Associate of Science degrees or Certificates of Achievement in three options: Advanced Technical Computer Graphics, Computer Graphics for Environmental Design, and Technical Desktop Publishing & Graphics.