San Antonio students who have learned STEM skills over the summer to become future tech leaders heard a success story from someone who was once just like them during the closing ceremony of the San Antonio Prefreshman Engineering Program (SA-PREP).
Marina Alderete Gavito, Chief Operations Officer at TechBloc and former PREP student, addressed more than 1,500 middle and high school students during the event on Thursday, July 28 at the Freeman Coliseum.
PREP students spent the past seven weeks at UTSA and other San Antonio area campuses working on projects and other hands-on activities, learning and applying advanced STEM concepts. They attended lectures and seminars.
“I love engineering. We built a bridge out of toothpicks to see how much it could withstand. It was a lot of fun. I had a really good time,” said SA-PREP student Francesca Makilan.
The curriculum included advanced mathematics, problem solving, engineering, physics, technical writing, water science, nanotechnology, computer science, research and STEM career awareness. PREP students also had the opportunity to earn college scholarships, high school credit, and college credit.
SA-PREP was established in 1979 by UTSA mathematics professor Manuel Berriozabal. This summer, the program (PREP I, PREP II, PREP III, PREP IV, and University PREP) was offered on 10 San Antonio campuses, including the UTSA Main and Downtown Campuses.
“The problem solving skills taught during this program help young people in the classroom and later on in their future careers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2018, the U.S. will have more than 1.2 million job openings in science, technology, engineering and mathematics-related occupations,” said Rudy Reyna, Executive Director of SA-PREP. “Yet the Bureau predicts there will be a significant shortage of qualified high school and college graduates to fill these jobs.”
More than 18,000 San Antonio students have completed at least one summer component with 88 percent of those students going on to attend college. The program also has been replicated in 14 cities as TexPREP and across the nation in five states as PREP-USA. Overall, PREP programs have served more than 39,000 students since the program began.