University City Science Center announced that in the new year, the nonprofit will be partnering with Houston-based communications infrastructure company Crown Castle on a telecommunications education program for high schoolers.
The collaboration will benefit high schoolers in the Science Center’s STEM program for teens, FirstHand, which offers project-based and career-exposing programing to local schools and community organizations.
Houston-based Crown Castle and the Science Center are partnering on the project as part of the company’s Connected by Good initiative, to improve spaces where people connect, promote public safety and to advance access to education and technology.
Students in the FirstHand program, which operates out of a lab at the Science Center’s 3675 Market St. location, will learn about communications infrastructure needed to provide reliable and efficient wireless service, with a specific focus on fiber and small cells, the Science Center reported. They’ll also look at how the two work together to create communication networks across the city.
Essentially, FirstHand Director David Clayton said, students will be learning about the tech that keeps our cell phones up and running.
The program “will create the tools and competitive advantage needed for young adults and underrepresented communities to thrive in an evolving and innovative workforce,” Clayton said in a statement. (Sounds similar in mission to the Science Center’s forthcoming workforce development program to get West Philadelphians without four-year degrees into STEM careers.)
Crown Castle cited a report by that Accenture that found the wireless industry accounted for about 4.7 million jobs in the U.S. in 2018. The program will hopefully open up that career option for students, the company said.
“Our curriculum with FirstHand will expose students to the wide range of roles and career opportunities available within this growing industry for the next generation of workers,” said St. Martin Torrence, a government affairs manager for Crown Castle.
The curriculum for the program will be developed by both the Science Center and Crown Castle, and while it’ll be taught by FirstHand staff, mentors from Crown Castle and other community partners will serve as “touchpoints” throughout the classes.
The Science Center said it’ll be rolling out the new curriculum in January.
In other Science Center news: Today is the last day you can apply for the new Launch Lane startup accelerator.