Gavilan College Computer Graphics and Design (CGD) instructor Colette Marie McLaughlin, is among 165 Industry Initiatives for Science and Math Education’s (IISME) educators now in California classrooms integrating real world insights gained during their summer IISME fellowships into their courses. She and other IISME teachers spent most of their summer vacations completing projects for 38 different sponsoring organizations while developing innovative coursework to make their classes more relevant to students. Dr. McLaughlin’s experience illustrates the power of IISME’s industry/education partnerships to transform teaching and learning.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company (LM SSC), her sponsor, has hosted a total of 354 fellows since IISME’s inception 28 years ago. Lockheed Martin vice president and General Manager Kevin Bilger explains, “We are committed to providing each teacher a meaningful experience that can be drawn upon back in the classroom to help inspire today's young students.” Bilger, who is also an IISME Senior Advisory Council member, along with several dozen Lockheed Martin Space System Company LM SSC mentors, guided 20 fellows through the culture shock of learning a new vocabulary and skills to support LM SSC’s cutting-edge missions. VP Bilger emphasized the need for teachers to use these real world lessons to help students replace fear with success in complex STEM subjects so they may become the next-generation of scientists and engineers.
Colette McLaughlin has been a LM SSC IISME fellow the past two years. She explained how these assignments transformed the way she teaches, “last year my mentor Sr. Manager Ron Moore tasked me with identifying then creating a searchable data base that matched subject matter experts with skills sets required for systems engineering integration. His project highlighted the urgency of providing students with interdisciplinary knowledge. This summer a team of mechanical engineers lead by mentors Richard Smith and Shannon Hughes helped me develop an educational plan to prepare designers, engineers, analysts, inspectors, and manufacturers for the transition to a drawing-less environment. Both 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 ensure students are fully literate. This awareness helped me develop interdisciplinary projects that require students to apply academics while gaining the technical skills my program has provided for decades.”
McLaughlin attributes LM SCC’s supportive professionals for helping her update Gavilan’s program of Computer Graphics & Design, into an applied and relevant interdisciplinary program, “LM SSC Mentor and Certified Expert Systems Engineering Professional #00916 Carol Gutierrez encouraged me to combine knowledge I gained from post graduate studies in architecture, industrial technology, environmental analysis and design with skills gained from work experience in the industries of architecture, engineering, construction management and environmental planning as I prepare to meet rigorous requirements of becoming a Certified Systems Engineer Professional. Gaining this certification reinforced the need to ensure students are prepared for demands of a highly competitive workforce. Project based learning helps students acquire a systems engineering approach by collaboratively integrating all disciplines to design cost-effective, environmentally-sound products that meet users’ needs, from cradle to grave.’ IISME-LM SSC fellowships reflect the importance of degree/certificates in Career Technology Education. My fellowships translated to Gavilan CGD students’ access to competencies needed to succeed in the global economy.”
Gavilan’s College Dean of Career Technical Education, Sherrean Carr, further explained how IISME fellowships support student achievement: “One of the greatest rewards is working with faculty like Dr. McLaughlin who strive to continually improve their teaching and create an environment that breeds success for students. Helping these students succeed requires technology courses that adapt with constantly evolving industry trends and standards.”
Colette Marie McLaughlin will continue to apply knowledge she gained this summer as she prepares Gavilan students for in architectural and engineering technologies and other fields that develop, produce 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, BIM and/or other commonly used computer graphics applications. Creative problem solving methods enable students to design products that meet human factors needs, use appropriate materials and address environmental issues in a cost effective manner.