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6-year academy preps students for STEM careers

Posted: 09 Apr 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Btech? STEM? SAP? software? Internet?

A public-private partnership among the State University of New York (SUNY), Queensborough Community College and SAP, an enterprise software development company, Btech aims to fast-track students through a variety of hands-on technology courses and real world experiences. The Business Technology Early College High School (Btech) is a six-year academy in Queens, N.Y. that is paving the way for ninth through 14th graders for various technical and business careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The institution is now teaching its first class of 110 ninth graders who will earn a high school diploma, then stay in the programme through their second year of college to earn an associate's degree in business information technology or computer science.

The programme is in line with a proposal from President Barack Obama to make community college free for two years. The high cost of higher education has made it difficult to find employees for the nearly one million STEM jobs in the United States, said Btech's founding Principal Hoa Tu.


Obama said [grades] nine through 14 are really the gateway to the middle class, to the American dream for families who want to work hard for it. Higher education is becoming increasingly expensive for families who might not otherwise afford it, but having the option to connect it at no cost for families...allows students come up through the pipe ready to work. This not only solves a national employment need, but a financial and social economic need.

During their early high school years, Btech students will shadow SAP professionals, obtain certifications and receive training and internships opportunities.

"This is not a comprehensive high school experience where you get to dabble. Students cannot fail at our school; we don't have time or space for them to fail," noted Tu. "That's really a challenge for our students. Some enjoy it some find it stifling."

Hoa Tu

Btech Principal Hoa Tu. (Source: SAP)

Btech students such as Tia Wright and Tony Jackson will take two periods of math and English-Language Arts a day, where teachers run classes no larger than 25 students and focus on real-world problem-based learning. Tia and Tony, who come from opposite sides of Queens, will also have in-school advisors and a SAP mentor they speak to weekly.

"My middle school didn't offer anything like STEM. When I told friends I'll start taking college classes in tenth grade they were pretty proud," Tia said, adding that she's competitive and likes taking tech-related field trips to local colleges. "It makes me feel accomplished, that I'm getting things done faster than the rest are."

Tony, on the other hand, has had more experience with technology in his early education. He already has plans to earn Bachelors and Masters degrees, then teach at high school and college levels. Tu said she hoped Tony would come back and be the principal of Btech.

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