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Smart idea: why Oracle's building a high school on its corporate campus

Submitted by doug.peeples on August 25, 2016

It's not uncommon for technology companies to align themselves with high schools, colleges and universities. The institutions can offer students opportunities to learn the skills they'll need to succeed in the high-tech field — and the companies help ensure the talent pool of professionals they need to be successful and competitive. It's a win for cities as well because those educational programs are intended to develop the trained professionals needed to manage and operate the technologies smart cities depend on for their success and sustainability. The story below is another example of innovative approaches to education. — Doug Peeples

When Design Tech High School (also referred to as opens in 2018 opens on the Silicon Valley campus of Council Lead Partner Oracle in the fall of 2018, it is expected to be the first public high school located on a corporate campus in the country.

The point?
The students, who will mostly be drawn from the local San Mateo Union High School District, will receive personalized education and workshops taught by Oracle employees who volunteer for the program.

"We're trying to build a school where we teach students that the world can be better, and they can be the ones to make it happen," founder Ken Montgomery was quoted as saying in Business Insider.

The school is an ambitious extension of Oracle's existing which began two years ago. Now located in a local trade school, was established to give students the opportunity to attend Oracle volunteer-led workshops on design-centered thinking, a key element of the program, and technology and collaboration.

An example of design-centered thinking? One assignment for's initial freshman class was to design the school, which they did by touring the campus and working with architects and design professionals to draw up the blueprints.

Montgomery and Colleen Cassity, executive director of the Oracle Education Foundation — who first brought up the idea to Oracle CEO Safra Catz) — are confident the school can be a model for how public-private partnerships can work together to improve education in the U.S.

While establishing a public high school on a corporate campus may seem a bit unusual, it seems to be part of Oracle's larger overall plan to encourage and financially support education. The company pledged $200 million in direct and in-kind assistance for U.S. computer science education in April in conjunction with the White House Science Fair. That investment is part of Oracle's $3.3 billion global investment strategy to support educators and diverse populations of students.

Other approaches
Another example of innovative ways tech companies use to ensure the talent pool they need is Council Lead Partner IBM's Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy located in Brooklyn. Successful tudents receive a high school diploma and a free two-year associates degree. IBM determined that more than half of the science, technology, engineering and math jobs in the next few years would be in computer science-related fields, but few schools were teaching it. The Academy so far has graduated students who have gone on to further their education, while others are working at IBM.

Doug Peeples is a Portland, Oregon-based writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartccouncil on Twitter.


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