The Heights

Updated: March 09, 2017

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New program helps STEM students through math hurdles

Engineers push us into the future, creating a better world with solutions that are safe, sustainable and easy to use. Educators at Foothill are doing this, too, with our new STEM Core program, helping engineering students meet their goals.

STEM Core is a cohort-based learning community program, guaranteeing registration in linked courses, including math, engineering and computer science for three quarters, for students who want more support learning math.

This fall, STEM Core students enrolled in MATH 105 Intermediate Algebra, ENGR 49 Engineering Careers and CS 49 Intro to Computer Science.

STEM Core program coordinator Donna Miranda says there is still time to join the program this winter if you’ve placed in Math 48A Pre-Calculus, the next course in the math sequence. By joining the cohort now, you’ll have the opportunity to be prepared for Calculus by summer 2017.

Math instructor Zach Cembellin, who is a co-faculty in this program, developed the curriculum to instruct this math sequence from fall 2016 through spring 2017. The accelerated portion of the program will occur this winter quarter. Students will meet Monday – Friday from 8 – 9:50 a.m., completing Math 48A and 48B.

The block schedule provides a unique benefit to STEM Core students with the advantage of developing a relationship with a single math instructor and gaining the capability to adapt to her/his teaching style in the math sequence.

Students have the option to enroll in either ENGR 10 Introduction to Engineering or CS 1A Object-Oriented Programming in Java along with the accelerated math classes for during winter quarter.

Students in the program receive free extra tutoring and academic and social support, with an opportunity for competitive, paid summer internships at NASA Ames, Lawrence Livermore Lab and other local STEM employers.

The program is funded by the SVETP-CCPT (Silicon Valley Engineering Technology Pathways-California Career Pathways Trust). Under CCPT, there are a multitude of partnerships between K-12 schools, business partners and community colleges to prepare students for “high-skill, high-wage jobs in emerging and growing industry sectors in the local or regional economy.” 

Miranda's coordinator position is funded through the grant. As a successful transfer from Mission College to UC Berkeley, she knows what it takes to be a successful student. As a means to track attendance and student progress, she attends STEM Core classes and meets with students individually on a monthly basis to discuss challenges inside and outside of the classroom.

Additionally, she guides and advises students in the cohort about Foothill’s available resources and support services as they identify possible issues that may affect their academic or career goals. “I find it especially rewarding to be able to give back to the community by sharing my experiences and helping students reach their educational and personal goals,” she said.

If you are interested in joining STEM Core or learning more about the program, please visit the STEM Core website and contact Donna Miranda at

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