Career and Technical Education Schools Prepare Students with STEM Skills

The Academy for Software Engineering was co-founded by Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures and Mike Zamansky, a computer science teacher at Stuyvesant High School, citing the growing demand for jobs in the tech field and the importance of starting tech education at an early age. Photo courtesy of Seung Yu

Among the 12 small high schools opening in New York City this fall, Career and Technical Education (CTE) schools are rising to the forefront in an effort to encourage students to enter STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers. Two of the CTE schools are the Academy for Software Engineering and the Union Square Academy for Health Sciences, both of which will be housed with three other schools in what is currently Washington Irving High School (set to be gradually phased out starting this fall).

Academy for Software Engineering

The Academy for Software Engineering (AFSE), geared towards students interested in computer science and technology, will prepare students to design and create the next generation of software applications through real-world instruction.

  • Number of students entering in September 2012: 108
  • AFSE is a “limited unscreened” school and is open to all students in New York City. Approximately 800 students applied for the 2012 freshman class.
  • The school was founded by Mike Zamansky, a computer science teacher at Stuyvesant High School, and venture capitalist Fred Wilson, of Union Square Ventures.
  • Of AFSE’s admissions requirements, proposed principal Seung Yu says there are no special exams or requirements beyond the admissions priorities established by the Department of Education. “One of the goals of the school is to provide this opportunity to all kids and abilities,” says Yu.
  • While the school is geared towards students studying computer science, students will also get a “rigorous” academic education that will prepare them for college.
  • AFSE will focus on connecting tech-inclined students to jobs and internships; one of the first sponsors is Bloomberg LP. “The school will help students become tomorrow’s inquisitive problem-solvers, collaborative leaders, and innovative entrepreneurs. We want AFSE to be a core contributor to New York City’s thriving tech industry by helping cultivate the talent needed to continue making the city a beacon for innovation,” says Yu.


Union Square Academy for Health Sciences

The Union Square Academy for Health Sciences will prepare students for health careers in pharmaceuticals and dentistry, as well as other STEM areas.

  • Number of students entering in September 2012: 108 (54 on the dental track, 54 on the pharmacy track)
  • The academy’s major partners are New York University for the dental program and St. John’s University for the pharmacy program. “Both universities are actively giving us advice on curriculum and will support our students with internships,” says proposed principal Bernardo Ascona (currently principal of Washington Irving High School).
  • Program highlights include project-based assessments (i.e., robotics), a freshman elective advisory course called “Rounds,” and internships during junior and senior years.
  • The school has targeted dentistry and pharmaceuticals to meet the expected demand for jobs in these fields. “We saw a need that was being not met in helping students in STEM health science-related areas. The academy will fill in a gap that Manhattan schools have not met for our students,” says Ascona.


Watch MetroFocus for videos and articles about education and technology in the metropolitan region.


For more technology news, watch “MetroFocus: The Tech Economy,” airing on THIRTEEN on June 30 at 5 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. and July 12 at 8:30 p.m.; on WLIW at 5:30 a.m. on June 30; on NJTV on July 1 at 5:30 a.m. and July 2 at 4:30 a.m.







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