Central, UofL Speed School Partnership Paying Off

May 22, 2023

Reposted with permission from JCPS.

For the past four years, seniors in Central High School’s STEM magnet program have been learning how to design, build and program robots as part of their schooling. They’ve also taken dual credit classes and gotten a taste of college life from the J.B. Speed School of Engineering at the University of Louisville.

Now that relationship is paying off for both schools, as 14 Central students have been accepted and plan to pursue engineering degrees at UofL.

“It’s taken some time over the past seven years but now we’re seeing the relationship starting to pay off,” said Chris Brown, Central STEM teacher.

“They (Speed School) had alot of summer programs on campus that we participated in to get a feel for the labs that they have,” said Anastasia Bricest, one of the graduating seniors who plans to attend UofL next year.

“Opening the door to LARRI (Louisville Autonomous Robotics Research Institute) was a pretty big thing they did for us,” said Logan Lewis, who is going to the Speed School to study electrical engineering.

Brown says one of the goals of the magnet program is to get more people of color, particularly women of color, interested in engineering and STEM fields. He says Central’s relationship with students and faculty at the Speed School has been encouraging to his high schoolers, who see college students who look like them, being successful.

“These are sharp kids,” Brown said. “And remember, these are pandemic students so they’ve had to be resilient and do alot of learning on their own, just like they will have to do in college.”

As for UofL, they are reaping benefits as well.

“The Speed School of Engineering greatly values the relationship we have with Central High School,” said Emmanuel Collins, dean of engineering.  “They do a great job of preparing a diverse set of students for STEM disciplines and we’re excited that many of them are matriculating at the Speed School of Engineering.”

Central’s STEM teachers – Brown, Jim Gilbert and Shawn Canaday – have taught students a variety of skills that have them ready for college, including engineering basics, computer programming and additive manufacturing and design.   Students have also been exposed to Python computer programming which helps them understand the universal coding concepts that can be used with any computer language.  The Python coding language is what many engineering schools are using and, Brown said, former Central students report that their knowledge of Python has put them ahead of other students who didn’t study the coding language in high school.

“Along with internships and job opportunities at various employers, our students leave this magnet with a real-world grasp of technological trends and how the job market will change over the coming years of their lives,” Brown said.