Developing Oakland’s Next-Generation Engineers

Diaz - green graduationThis post is part of a series highlighting stories from our 2015 Diversity & Inclusion Annual Report.

Josue Diaz Jr. knows just how challenging studying to be an engineer can be. After taking engineering courses for two years at a Los Angeles university, he was academically disqualified because of his low grades. “I didn’t have the right guidance in high school, didn’t know about financial aid or how to get tutoring, didn’t have any role models or mentors,” said Diaz. After much personal reflection, he changed his major to Education. Now the assistant principal at Oakland Tech High School, Diaz is making sure his students get the opportunity, preparation, and support they need to succeed as engineers and computer scientists in the technology field.

Over the next five years, through a new partnership between Intel and the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), several hundred primarily African-American and Latino high school students will be inspired, guided, and supported to become college- and career-ready in STEM-related fields. “Our students have had exposure to a computer science and engineering curriculum for years,” said Diaz. “But not at the level Intel is providing.” Diaz says the Intel-OUSD partnership is just the type of collaboration schools such as his strive for. In addition to completely revamping the curriculum and replacing technology in the classrooms, the partnership is introducing students to Intel mentors who will provide coaching and examples of real life experiences.

“There are a lot of students at our schools who have great potential and can do wonderful things,” said Diaz. “But it’s difficult to picture yourself in the technology industry when you don’t see people like yourself in the field,” he said, citing the few people of color from his community he sees riding the commuter shuttles destined for Silicon Valley. “So when young, talented students like ours are introduced to technology through interactive learning opportunities and role models like Intel, there’s no limit to how far they can go.”