ME 100/200 Seminar on "The Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy"


Monday, June 4, 2012 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm


ESB 1001


Amir Abo-Shaeer & Nicolas Ruvalcaba, Dos Pueblos High School Engineering Academy

Abstract:  The Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy (DPEA) will present their capstone project and share their vision for pre-college engineering education.  The DPEA is a four-year specialized educational program that was founded in 2002 and developed under the leadership its director, Amir Abo-Shaeer.  The graduating DPEA seniors will present their award winning basketball shooting robot that they designed to compete in the 2012 FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Engineering) robotics competition.  Following the student presentation current UCSB mechanical engineering student Nicolas Ruvalcaba and Abo-Shaeer will talk about project-based education and the exciting partnerships being formed between the UCSB College of Engineering and the DPEA.

View Amir Abo-Shaeer's MacArthur Award profile here!


Amir Abo-Shaeer began his career as a mechanical engineer working on research and development in academia, aerospace, and telecommunications before deciding to move into the field of education in 2001.  He attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he earned his B.S. in Physics, M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, and M.Ed. in Secondary Education.

Abo-Shaeer is currently the Director of the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy in Goleta, California where he teaches physics and engineering and develops curriculum focused on project-based learning.  He is also dedicated to outreach efforts, which have yielded 50% female student enrollment in his program.

In 2007, he garnered a $3 million California matching grant to create a new facility on the Dos Pueblos high school campus.  He worked with several volunteers to establish the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy Foundation (DPEAF) which raised the additional $3 million in capital to match the grant. The DPEAF now works to secure funds to sustain the current educational goals of the program.

Construction began on the 12,000 square-foot Elings Center for Engineering Education in July 2010 and was completed in December of 2011.  This new facility has enabled the academy to triple its enrollment and significantly broaden the educational opportunities available to students. The new equipment in the facility has allowed for the implementation of new project-based curriculum that incorporates the content standards of physics, sculpture, and engineering into a three-year integrated course for academy students. 

The senior robotics class participates as Team 1717 in the international FIRST Robotics Competition every year.  New York Times bestselling author Neal Bascomb wrote a book chronicling Abo-Shaeer’s visionary teaching, his quest to transform education, and his 2009 FIRST robotics team’s competition season. The New Cool was released in March, 2011 and is currently in development as a feature film by Oscar-winning producer Scott Rudin in partnership with Miramax.

Abo-Shaeer was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in September 2010. He has since been a keynote speaker at various events to discuss how project-based education is an answer to many of the problems that the public school system is currently facing, particularly in STEM subjects.

Nicolas Ruvalcaba is a Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy graduate, and is currently a senior at UCSB in mechanical engineering.  After high school he began working as a mechanical engineering intern for the Los Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network (LCOGT). He worked with LCOGT for three years developing mounting fixtures for astronomical cameras. At the beginning of his senior year at UCSB he joined the DPEA as a teaching assistant. Upon graduating this June he will begin the UCSB Teacher Education Program with the intention of working for the DPEA in the future.