York U to create STEM ‘talent pipeline’

York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering k2i (kindergarten to industry) academy will put new 407 ETR funding towards creating a “talent pipeline” in STEM (science, technology engineering and math) careers.

The k2i academy will also offer opportunities to groups underrepresented in STEM, including women, Black and Indigenous youth and those from low-income communities.

“The k2i academy is a sandbox for innovation in STEM education, building a network of collaborative partners committed to creating systemic change in our education system,” says Lassonde School Dean Jane Goodyer. “With this gift, Lassonde will continue our work to increase equity, diversity and inclusion, and create a talent pipeline in STEM through job-ready training and innovative learning models.”

Members of 407 ETR, k2i academy at Lassonde School of Engineering and York University (CNW Group/407 ETR Concession Company Limited)

The $400,000 donation will be divided equally between two programs. The first, the 407 ETR Path2STEM Fund, will support a Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) program, which allows students to gain experiences and develop skills toward their secondary school diploma while focusing on a specific economic sector. The fund will create SHSM experiences in engineering and digital technologies to prepare students for post-secondary programs and STEM careers.

“407 ETR is a company rooted in STEM,” says 407 ETR President & CEO Javier Tamargo. “In fact, about half of our workforce is employed in a STEM-related position, ranging from data analytics and IT to traffic and tolling. These professionals are integral to our business and so is ensuring that our team is reflective of the vibrant communities we serve.”

The second program, the 407 ETR Work Integrated Learning Equity, Diversity and Inclusion fund, will help k2i expand its offerings to students underrepresented in STEM. Since its launch in June 2020, k2i has been offering paid summer work opportunities for York, Toronto and Peel District School Board students in Grades 10, 11 and 12.

Students complete 140 hours of paid work and can earn a high school prerequisite credit for STEM pathways while learning skills in coding, design, electronics and more. This year’s on-campus program offered a Grade 12 English credit, rooting language and communication in hands-on science and engineering experiences.

k2i academy has employed more than 400 high school students and more than 130 undergraduate STEM mentors through a work-integrated learning program. More than 99 per cent of students successfully complete their credits. 407 ETR is a longtime supporter of the Lassonde School. In 2013, it donated funds to support the 407 ETR Learning Laboratory, which is home to pre-laboratory training, theory and application for civil engineering students.

Photo: k2i academy students demonstrate project work. (CNW Group/407 ETR Concession Company Limited)

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