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Students lobby for field trip funding
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Seeing is believing. . .

Such was the case for 40 Delta College MESA (Math, Engineering, Science Achievement) and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) students. Through the combined efforts of Delta’s computer science faculty, STEM Academy, and Delta College MESA, a tour to Microsoft and Google’s Mountain View campuses took place during the fall semester.

No doubt about it, a field trip to these sometimes mysterious, stealthy industry goliaths was intriguing. “The field trip created a ‘Buzz’ across campus,” said tour coordinator and Delta College MESA director, Cassandra Hernandez-Vives. “Everybody wanted to go, but we only had a limited number of slots.” That number was eventually “whittled down” to 40 computer science, engineering, math students, coders, and some gamers.

Exciting, yes — but the value of “real world” exposure and “behind the scenes” access to industry leaders via field trips was the theme for staff and students at a recent Delta College Foundation meeting. The Foundation is the fundraising arm of the college, and serves as the umbrella for a variety of academic projects. More funding for such trips was clearly the goal for the day.

“We live so close to Silicon Valley, why not visit?” emphasized Delta College physics instructor, Lincoln Lee. “Students can see the innovation and reality of places where they can actually work.”

 Lee says field trips can be incorporated into the class work of students, combining theoretical instruction with exposure to real world application.  

The Microsoft/Google field trip allowed Delta’s students to experienced two distinctly different work cultures — up close and personal.

 “It blew my mind,” computer science major Michael Runyon told the Foundation. “Microsoft is more of a business environment, more structured, while Google is the most liberal workplace I’ve ever seen.”

All students agreed that one environment isn’t necessarily better than the other. They witnessed a broad range of employees and personalities at both companies. Microsoft is geared toward efficiency, while the casual, more relaxed environment of Google is geared toward creativity.

“At Google, employees seem to come and go as they please,” added computer science student Michael Layman. “However, some people work better in a more structured environment like Microsoft. We received advice on what skills we need to achieve jobs at these companies.  I found this information extremely helpful…as it would be for future Delta students.” 

MESA student Norlan Prudente found the field trip inspiring, as did others on the tour. “I was only aiming for an A.S. degree. This trip encouraged me to pursue my B.S. or Masters.” Prudente finished, “I’d love to work for either company.”

Delta College Superintendent/President Kathy Hart is also a Delta Foundation Board member. She joined Delta students on the “amazing journey” to Microsoft and Google.

“I’d like to see the Delta Foundation facilitate funding for field trips to large and small businesses and industry in all content areas.” Hart said. “Students need to hear from managers and workers about what is expected at the job site.  They need to understand first-hand what expectations employers have for their employees. Field trips are a great way to realize this goal.”

Foundation Board members all agreed with the student/staff assessments regarding the insightful value of field trips. Foundation Board member and Delta College trustee, Claudia Moreno, related that many companies might “help fund such trips as a recruiting and outreach effort.”