Sandy Seale: I'm Sandy Seal, and I'm the President of the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy Foundation. My daughter Ellen is a Senior in the program, and my son Luke graduated in 2009. Sandy Seale: My oldest daughter Amy, took freshman physics from Amir in 2001, here at DP. It was his first semester teaching, and it was her first semester in the public high school. So, I knew early on that he was just an amazing teacher. This was way before the engineering academy.
He made a huge impact on her life, she did really well in physics, she learned to love it, she had a great time. She graduated went on, my son came home from school one day with a letter from Amir. I'm trying to think, it was Fall of 2006, and he came home and he said I have a letter from my teacher, you have to go to a meeting. And it was said, you know, we got a $3 million grant, we need a match, we need the parents to come together and raise money. Went to this meeting, it was about 40 people. Amir explained how he needed a you know, volunteer army to raise money.
We kept meeting week, after week, after week, and out of that grew this core of parents who became the foundation of 501C3 non-profit. We launched the capital campaign in May of 2008, and you know what happened in May of 2008. And you know it, it was just like a dream come true, it still is, I mean it's just, this is a living dream, somebody dream. So it really speaks to me I'm I'm a stem, you know, we didn't call it stem, but I majored in engineering, in college in 1977.
There were ten women in my class, I went on, I got a PhD from MIT, I was the first woman ever in my program. So, anything that would attract women and, you know, to this type of work, I think is just phenomenal, it, it's still, it's still, it's just great. Sandy Seale: Oh, that part has been really interesting, because we took our model for a non-profit joint to the school district from other projects that have happened in Santa Barbara. But they did not go into the community the way we do, really Amir had set that up already, when he was doing robotics he was out, he had worked in various companies around Santa Barbara, so he had friends.
And he was out there talking to these engineering companies and getting funding from them. So he had already set up this whole network. So when we started the capital campaign and we realized it wasn't just capital, we saw how much work he was doing to raise money for the program, for the materials, for the robots, for the students. We said, well, we'll take that on, our foundation will take on that job, as well. So starting with that nucleus of companies that he had, we reached out, we reached out to you. You know, we, we have tours through here, one or two a week, of local community leaders, organizations, companies, other non-profits, to come in and see what we're doing.
So there's the funding aspect of it, we also have mentors who come in and help, that various companies loan their employees to us, in different capacities, not just engineers. We have accountants, we have graphics people video people, and internships. Our community partners offer summer jobs, paid summer jobs to our students, and we're trying to grow that. We also have a service learning component, where our students go out and do work with younger students, to get them into the stem pipeline, and that's another community based program that we're trying to grow as, as the population grows.
Sandy Seale: Amir would say that you could start small, you know, he had one class. He had no facility, he was able to do all the fund raising himself, you can start with one idea you don't have to start big. You have to reach out, you have to be able to get other people interested, you know, your administrators, your parents, your community. I do think it helps to be in a community that has a large research university and sort of tech base, like we have here in Santa Barbara.
We definitely have a lot of stem companies based here that are willing to help. We are starting a teacher training program this year where, student teachers are going to come in and be here for a full year. And so they are going to learn curriculum, Amir's teaching methods, but also our foundation is going to give them training in fundraising and organizing volunteers. Because the reality is, teachers are going to have to be able to do this if they want to be entrepreneurs, with their ideas. So we do have plans to try to teach the method of, of how to make it work, and, and it helps to be like I said in a community that will support it.
Sandy Seale: I just, what I said, it is like a dream come true, you know that Amir had this vision and, and here we are. And that we do have a lot of plans to go beyond Santa Barbara to get it out into the world, California first, and, and beyond. The new Common Core standards in teaching, I mean, they include engineering. There's an engineering component, and it's very project based on every level, so the timing is right, I think, for what, what Amir is doing. He will always be a teacher, he wants to be here, he wants to work with the students.
This is sort of the laboratory for his ideas and education. But we do want to go national, so that's kind of the next, this is what's on my horizon as a foundation, you know, to kind of keep the, the momentum going. Sandy Seale: I'm still a volunteer, I, I have a paid job. At the university. Speaker 2: Okay. Sandy Seale: When I started in 2007, we're all volunteers, we have no employees. When I started in 2007, I was still a full time mother, so I had a lot of time. In 2009, I went back to work at the University, I was working, when I left, you know to have children, I was running the seismology lab, at UC Santa Barbara.
So I actually went back into my old job, with my former student as my boss. So I was working in seismology doing research for the past five years, and three months ago I had actually made a job switch at at UCSB, so I have, I have a new position. But I like working and I like doing this, so as long as I can keep it all going I'm fine, you know. Sandy Seale: I tell people this all the time, that aside from raising my children, this is the most rewarding thing I have ever done.
I mean, just in terms of, how, I feel like the luckiest person in the world. I mean, how many times do you get a chance to really make an impact, with your own efforts. You know, we got to grow this from scratch, and it's been just a tremendous success, as you know, you're here. We have all these people who help. We have all of these volunteers who, who work. We get to organize it, we get to go out in the community, meet great people. All the kids are having a fantastic experience so, it's just tremendously satisfying on a personal level for me, because I'm still here.
And I'm planning to stay, you know, until they kick me out.
When you're done watching the documentary, make sure to check out the bonus conversations in the Interviews chapter.