Stratford High School

“Preparing Student for College, Career, and Life”

By Susan Cowley
University of Tennessee- Knoxville


Metro Nashville Public Schools prepares students for “college, career, and life.” It’s a part of the vision statement for Nashville’s school district, but how exactly does this happen? One method involves students receiving industry related professional certifications before high school graduation.

Students in the Academies of Nashville are meeting industry standards to receive professional certifications before walking across stage in their caps and gowns. In fact, during the 2013-2014 pilot year, more than 180 students received certifications in more than a dozen areas.

After completing a yearlong preparatory course, students have the opportunity to take the certification test. If a student passes the exam and meets other certification specific criteria, he or she will walk out of high school with a competitive edge in the workforce. The certifications range across multiple fields from healthcare to broadcasting.

Teachers in the school system have been instrumental to the success of this program. Criminal Justice instructor Jeremiah Davis has seen more students to receive certification than any other teacher in the district.

“Obtaining a certification helps demonstrate maturity at a young age and determination to accomplish goals” says Davis, from Whites Creek High School. It is evident he feels that these certifications leave longstanding positive effects as he states, “When I see my former students and even students from other schools I offered the certifications to, they let me know they are working because of their certification.” Davis knows that it is well worth the effort to see students reap the benefits of industry certification. “My students know that the way to get ahead in life is to stand out in a positive way. Certifications allow a student to graduate with a great distinction and work as they are in college or start their career immediately.”

Stratford STEM Magnet High School graduate, Reggie Mayes sees the benefits of industry certifications in his own life. Mayes says his certification aided him in becoming a more mature individual. He is now working as an unarmed security guard at a local grocery store.

Mayes believes that his certification has “helped me get my life on track to start a good life after school.” He also considers the certification process to have fostered strong, positive relationships between him and his teachers.

Not only does the industry certification program profit the students, it strengthens the teachers as well. “I’ve seen significant improvements to my own work as a result of the training and certification” says Becky Banazsak-Pendergrass, Broadcasting/Media Production Teacher and CTE Cluster Lead Teacher at Hillsboro High School. Banazsak-Pendergrass recently became certified to host a testing cite at Hillsboro; bringing the school the distinction of being one of the only testing facilities for Final Cut Pro in the state of Tennessee. She feels this has given her greater insight into the process as a whole. She strongly supports student certification, and says, “not only does it hold students to a much higher standard, but it also gives them a real-world benefit…obtaining a professional certification that is recognized by their industry of study is a very practical step they can take towards a successful career.” Banazsak-Pendergrass believes the greatest benefit that students receive is an overall boost in motivation; she sums up her experience with certifications by stating, “Students who in the past may have done just barely enough work to pass the course are now taking ownership of their learning experience, actively taking notes and asking questions throughout instructional time, and seeking out additional opportunities for learning and practice.”

This opportunity would not be possible without the support of the Nashville Career Advancement Center, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, as well as federal CTE grants. Through the generous donations of these organizations, students were able to earn certifications worth hundreds of dollars for an individual fee of $10.

Industry certifications are an exciting new benefit for graduates of all MNPS high school programs. “Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools will provide every student with the foundation of knowledge, skills and character necessary to excel in higher education, work and life.” Certifications play a key role in instilling confidence, motivation, and success in each individual student. It is evident that the opportunities allowed to students through professional certifications strengthen the goals and values of the MNPS school system.Pe

Why Academies? Its about the Relationships

One of the key objectives of the Academies of Nashville is to develop relationships between students, teachers, business partners, and the Nashville community. In the post below, Austin S. writes about his academy experience and the relationships he has developed through his time in Metro Nashville Public Schools. 


The Academy of National Safety and Security Technologies is a wonderful academy in which to belong. I enjoy the academy because of the teachers, the learning environment, and the activities we get to experience.  Within the academy, I am in the Computer Gaming/Programming pathway. I especially enjoy the computer gaming and programming class because of the different experiences and standards I get to learn. This pathway is really fun to be in, and I love all the variety of technology speakers who visit with us. A specific teacher I would like to thank for the experience is Mr. Osborne. He’s taught me a lot throughout the three years he has been here. He has taught me how to program sprites and objects, programming languages, and made different apps on the software, Eclipse. Mr. Osborne is a wonderful teacher to be around, and he has made a huge impact on me. Without him I wouldn’t know how to program apps, sprite, or create code for games.

Another great experience I had was going to Emma. Emma was one of the greatest places to job shadow.  During my experience, I learned lots of new terms, different roles each person plays, and the diversity of the tech world. In addition, I gave the staff a presentation on what I learned and how I could apply the information. The job shadow experience boosted my confidence because I am not much of a public speaker. When I spoke in front of the Emma staff, it really opened my eyes that I have the ability to speak to anyone without being nervous. If it wasn’t for Dr. Berry, my academy coach, I would not know about Emma.

Thanks to all of my academy teachers and peers for this wonderful experience throughout my years at Stratford STEM Magnet High School. The experiences and classes have provided me with so much knowledge that it allows me to teach to my siblings and other students.  It is for these experiences, events, and understandings that have made my academy experience so wonderful.

Fidelity. Bravery. Integrity

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Stratford STEM Magnet High School Executive Principal Michael Steele implemented the Criminal Justice Cadet Corps (CJCC) in 2013. The mission of the CJCC is to provide students with a comprehensive program of training, competition, service, and practical experiences. Character development, leadership, command presence, physical fitness, good citizenship and patriotism are integral components of the Cadet Corps. Cadets are a primary supporter of school activities and serve as a positive role model for all students by participating in community service, practical exercises and competition. Cadets develop an awareness of the critical real world skill set necessary to learn and grow in preparation for college and career.

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Executive Principal, Mr. Steele and Academy Coach, Dr. Jennifer Berry motivating students and cadets.

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Academy Principal Gail Merkerson presents the Cadet Corps at a school assembly.

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Lt. Stine and an ROTC Officer from Vanderbilt University

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Capt. Simmons and an alumnus from West Point

Captain Blake Simmons and 1st Lt. Jordan Stine attended the U.S. Military Academy conference hosted by Congressman Jim Cooper. Captain Simmons and Lt. Stine met with Congressman Cooper and staff, West Point cadets, Naval Academy cadets, and Vanderbilt Army and Air Force ROTC cadets.

Stratford STEM Magnet High School’s Academy of National Safety and Security Technologies teachers, administration, and students are proud to have a strong mentoring and business partnership with the following:

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Society of Former FBI Special Agents
  • Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy
  • Tennesse Bureau of Investigation
  • Metropolitan Nashville Police Department
  • Medal of Honor Foundation
  • Wounded Warrior Project
  • United States Marine Corps
  • United States Army National Guard
  • Stratford Alumni Association (Retired FBI Special Agent Steed, Class of 1970)
  • Parents of Cadet Corps Students

Stratford Student Shadows in Cancer Research Lab

Job shadowing gives students the opportunity to see the realities of a profession or industry and the connections between learning and the real world. Taronda W., a student from Stratford STEM Magnet High School,  participated in a job shadow at Diatech Oncology Lab.  In this post, Taronda writes about her experiences.

Diatech Oncology

I attended the Diatech Oncology lab and visited Ms. Patti. She talked about cells and she made cells. She let us make our own microscope slides. First we dipped the cell in four types of stain and then alcohol. Next, we looked at the cell on a digital microscope. We were able to see all the colors combined with the cells. Then, she let us take them home. Afterwards, she showed us her robot. Her robot pipets everything. She also let us see how you could keep up with the pipetting on the computer, which monitored each row. Our pipets at school have you do one at a time by hand (96 holes). Ms. Patti’s pipets have four tips at a time and her robot does it in less than 15 minutes.

My favorite part was when we got to wear real lab coats that Ms. Patti and her crew wear in their lab. I also enjoyed it because she talked a lot about breast cancer. She also talked about how she and her crew treat the different types of breast cancer. I was interested because I had a family member die of breast cancer when I was little. I didn’t know as much as I know now since I visited Ms. Patti’s lab. I enjoyed her job position and sharing it with me – it couldn’t have been better.

Teacher Team-Building Beyond the Classroom

Saturday, Sept. 6, Stratford STEM Magnet High School took to the Cumberland River for the Cumberland River Compact’s 8th annual Dragon Boat Festival.  A team of twenty-one was comprised students, teachers, parents, and business partners who all came together for top honors in this team sport.

Stratford’s best time of the day, was one minute eleven seconds; a much better time than in 2013 with one minute twenty-five seconds.  Despite the rain, the team had a great time and was cheered on by students, parents, partners, and staff.  In between heats, Stratford teachers could be seen working on their laptops planning lessons together and writing project-based learning curriculum.

Stay tuned as they prepare to battle it out again in 2015.


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Stratford shows that collaboration and teamwork are necessary outside the classroom and work place.

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The team waits at the starting line to begin the race.

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Between heats, teachers could be found working on lesson plans and project-based learning curriculum.

Which School is Right for Me?

Selecting the right high school, with the right academy, is an important step for students and families in Nashville. More options are available than ever before and the option school application provides families with the chance to sign up for the program that best fits their needs. Visiting our schools is an important step in the decision-making process.

Showcases provide an opportunity to experience the school environment, learn more about academy offerings, talk with teachers and current students, and meet school leadership. Even if you miss a showcase that interests you, call the school and ask to schedule a visit.  All of the Academies of Nashville offer a unique selection of academies that are tailored to students’ interests and provide college-preparatory education.


High School Date Time Phone Number
Antioch High School Tuesday, October 21 5:30 – 7:00 615-641-5400
Cane Ridge High School Friday, October 17 4:00 – 6:00 615-687-4000
Glencliff High School Tuesday, September 30 6:00 – 7:30 615-333-5070
Hillsboro High School Friday, September 12 5:00 – 6:45 615-298-8400
Hillwood High School Thursday, October 30 5:45 – 7:00 615-353-2025
Hunters Lane High School Thursday, October 16 6:00 – 7:30 615-860-1401
Maplewood High School Wednesday, October 15 6:00 – 8:00 615-262-6770
McGavock High School Tuesday, September 23 6:30 – 8:00 615-885-8850
Overton High School Friday, October 17 5:00 – 7:00 615-333-5135
Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School Thursday, October 16 6:00 – 7:30 615-329-8150
Stratford STEM Magnet

High School

Tuesday, October 21 5:30 – 7:30 615-242-6730
The MNPS Virtual School Wednesday, October 22 4:30 – 6:00 615-463-0188 ext. 3900
Whites Creek High School Tuesday, October 28 6:00 – 7:30 615-876-5132

How do you spell leadership?


The Academies of Nashville hosted its third annual Ambassador Leadership Conference last month where more than 200 high school ambassadors learned about the student leadership challenge.  Ambassadors learned to model the way, challenge the process, encourage the heart, enable others to act, and inspire a shared vision; skills that will be called upon during their year as an Academy Ambassador. But, what else do you get when you bring 200 future leaders together into one room? A ton of fun, camaraderie, and memories!




Job Shadowing Provides Different Perspectives for Stratford Students

Job shadowing give students the opportunity to see the realities of a profession or industry and the connections between learning and the real world. Austin S., a student from Stratford STEM Magnet High School,  participated in a job shadow at Emma. Additionally, Jorge C. participated in a job shadow to Universal Robotics.  In this post, Austin and Jorge write about their experiences.


Stratford at Emma


It was a wonderful opportunity to be at Emma for a job shadow. I learned a lot of skills within the amount of time we had during each study. I really enjoyed Kat’s role as Scrum Master, and the role she plays in development. What stood out to me the most was when she mentioned the two concepts, Waterfall and Agile, and how each of it differs from one another; Agile, being set rules and Waterfall, having an open space to think freely.

Kevin’s role was awesome to learn about because he knows that if he makes a mistake he can go back and fix that mistake. The app he is designing looks great! I want that app for myself to try it out.

I also enjoyed learning what Scot does and it looks like he has the most complex job there at Emma. It was an honor to see what he does. The visual representation was the best part of the session, and I was flabbergasted by the things he does with all the codes. For example, reading the codes, and how he can pick out which person is doing the right or wrong thing and not messing up.

Last but certainly not least is Mary with the marketing role. What stood out to me most was when she said that there are repeating ads for when you go to different websites, CPC (cost per click), and how she uses Google Analytics and different websites to analyze all the data she receives.

I also enjoyed making our app and it was fun! I hope one day the app we thought of will be used and we can create it in the future. The Q&A was a great experience as well. I enjoyed speaking to all of them. Overall this was a great experience and it has shown me the diversity of the tech field.  I will definitely learn more about the fusion of technology and the restaurant field.


Straford at Universal Robotics


I was in awe from the moment we pulled in the driveway, when I noticed that that Universal Robotics wasn’t just any old office building but a house in a regular neighborhood. Hearing Mr. Peters explain his and the company’s background was very intriguing. He also introduced the group to new software being created by his company that will make an impact on the Internet by evolving search engines.

Later in the day, we visited the lab in the backyard. There was a robotic arm in the facility, and one of the employees gave us a demonstration by lifting boxes. The arm functions with suction cups underneath it and uses a vacuum force to lift the boxes and places them on a platform. Another tool that was demonstrated was a laser that made a 3-D design on the computer. The laser reads any object on a flat surface and creates a 3D model using a special software on the computer.

Each employee had his or her own unique background, most didn’t even know they were going to be there at one point in time. Then it hit me that you can succeed in life if you put time and effort into it. I thank Universal Robotics for the time they had to spare for us, to come and visit their facility.

Student receives Former Agents of the FBI Foundation Character Development Award






Updated on September 15 with Blake’s point of view. 

On Sept. 9, Mr. Stephens, Blake S., and Blake’s family deployed to Knoxville, Tennessee. The FBI Retired Agents Association implemented the Character Development Program. This program is attempting to instill character into youth. They have offered a $2500 scholarship to two people, a male and a female, that have exemplified extraordinary character. At approximately 1730 hours from the Holiday Inn hotel, a convoy unit consisting of a police escort and a charter bus departed to Neyland Stadium. This bus was filled with Medal of Honor recipients, and retired FBI agents. At Neyland Stadium a dinner was served, followed by the actual ceremony. Ellen Glasser was leading this event, and introduced Tommy Norris. He received a Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War. While in Vietnam one of his eyes was injured beyond use. He persevered and by beating policy and expectations, he became a FBI agent. Norris was warm hearted, an always quick to laugh at himself. “I don’t know which camera to look at, good thing my eyes look in different directions.”


Blake received his award for character that evening, and was invited to participate in a teacher-training course the following day. At this training Blake was able to see vignettes of Medal of Honor recipients, and have a Q&A with two recipients. Blake Simmons received a standing ovation after he was introduced to the crowd, which exceeded 50 people. Blake says that this amazing opportunity would not of been possible without the constant support of Mr. Stephens and Mr. Steele.


Stratford STEM Magnet’s Academy of National Safety and Security Technologies ambassador B. Simmons, won the FBI Foundation Character Development award.  Simmons will receive a $2,500 bond and all-expense paid trip to Knoxville Tuesday, Sept. 9,  where he will be presented the award by former FBI Agent, Navy SEAL, and Medal of Honor recipient Lieutenant Tommy Norris. Congratulations B. Simmons!

Stratford STEM Magnet High Virtual Tour

Take a tour of Stratford STEM Magnet High School. Learn more about the Academies at Stratford and what learning looks like in Metro Nashville Public Schools.

Students Work to Improve Bike Safety over Summer Break

Internships give students the opportunity to see the realities of a profession or industry and the connections between learning and the real world. Delaine Wendling, a lead teachers from Stratford STEM Magnet High School‘s Academy of Science and Engineering,  had students who participated in an internship this summer though the Institute for Software Integrated Systems at Vanderbilt University.  In this post, Delaine write about her perceptions of the internship and the impact it had on her students.

The new school year looms just around the corner promising new interactions, knowledge, and growth. Oh yes, and impressive moments. My students never fail to impress me, whether it’s through their ability to talk their way out of a consequence or their innovative solutions to different problems. Today, my students delivered; and they delivered at a whole new level. The halls have yet to be roamed and the dust has just been wiped off of my desk yet my students have already blown my socks off. Students from Hume-Fogg, MLK, and, our very own, Stratford STEM High School participated in an internship at ISIS (Institute for Software Integrated Systems), a research organization of the school of engineering at Vanderbilt, this summer.

The students were challenged to improve a bike’s safety in a user friendly way. The students launched head first into the task and came out the other side with an informational and entertaining presentation to the public of their inventive new products. These included wheel lights that have the potential to be customizable, a brake light and turn signals, and a Graphical User Interface (GUI) that can track and display various metrics- i.e. speed, distance, calories burned, etc. All of these features are controlled by a computer attached to the bike. Developed safety features can all be sold separately, allowing a potential customer to pick and choose what s/he feels is important to her/him. Furthermore, their software is open source, allowing the program-savvy consumers to expand upon the existing framework and add their own features.

During the presentation, the students were transparent about their struggles and how they overcame them while creating their bike products. Students came into the internship with a multitude of experiences and skills amongst them. Specifically and thanks to our engineering program, Stratford STEM students brought the ability to work with CAD software (Computer-Aided Design) and 3-D printing. Throughout the internship, the students sought the expertise and advice of professors, graduate students, undergraduates, and each other to develop bike safety tools.  In addition, students self-taught, using the vast resources of the internet, the majority of the material needed to progress. They learned new, and improved familiar, skills including: collaboration, communication/presentation, problem solving, programming, etc. through the summer internship. Their intense motivation to learn came from the ownership they felt, their interest, and the relevance of the project, to name a few. This is the heart of Project Based Learning (PBL). The presentation I saw today further confirmed the importance of PBL to a students’ love for learning and the development of 21st century citizens. Stratford is no stranger to PBL and is actually becoming a MNPS PBL demonstration school this upcoming school year. So, stay tuned for the amazing projects our students will be engaged in throughout the year as well as the new bike safety products that will be hitting the market soon??!!

See more information here.


Student Summer Plans: Taking College Classes and Building Bridges

A student at Stratford STEM Magnet High School in the Academy of Science and Engineering  had the opportunity to attend the National Summer Transportation Institute at Tennessee State University.



Lt. Col. John L. Hudson, Commander of the Nashville District talks with students attending the National Summer Transportation Institute program on a variety of engineering classes and current district projects during a lecture on the campus of Tennessee State University. (Photo by Mark Rankin)

This summer, I attended a pre-college program known as the National Summer Transportation Institute, or NSTI, at Tennessee State University. The program focused on the various majors in engineering. I stayed on campus for a month and attended three classes: Engineering 101, Math, and English/ Critical Thinking. The information that was given in a college setting changed my perspective on engineering. Previously, I thought engineering was a simple career that anyone can do, but after attending the program I learned it’s a very complex career that requires high attention to detail and strong mathematical skills.

Participating in the National Summer Transportation Institute taught me to think about decisions more analytically. Analytical thinking is all about problem solving. In order to find a solution to a problem, I break the situation down into smaller parts and reach my answers through facts and logic. The groups at NSTI were assigned to design and construct a bridge. First, we drew a sketch of what we wanted the bridge to look like, including the bridge’s height, width, and length. Next, we got a hold of the materials. We used Styrofoam for the roads, two wooden pillars, a wooden plank for the base, two Styrofoam circles, and nylon strings for the suspension. Keeping the bridge suspended and leveled were our biggest challenges. We placed the circles on top of the pillars giving it the name, “Halo Bridge.” Overall, the program was beneficial to my education and I had a great time!



CSI: Stratford STEM Magnet High School

Strong relationships with local academy partners is the key to building effective business engagement in our high schools. The Academies of Nashville provide students with meaningful, hands-on learning in context through unique partnerships with local businesses, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. The Teacher Team Externship Program gives teachers an opportunity to have a real-world professional experience at a host organization to develop a project-based curriculum that gives students industry exposure and applied learning. Teachers from Stratford STEM Magnet High School had the opportunity to have an externship with their business partner, the Metro Nashville Police Department. 


Untitled As Criminal Justice students at Stratford learn, “M.O.M.” is the acronym for MOTIVE, OPPORTUNITY and MEANS“M.O.M.” is a common formula used in criminal investigations, forensic analysis of evidence, and investigative case management.

In this case, the MOTIVE of our externship was to allow the Stratford staff to gain a real world hands on experience that would enable them to collaborate on the development of a project based learning model that will be implemented on a school-wide basis during for the school year.

In this case, the OPPORTUNITY existed because the Metro Nashville Police Department is a strong business partner with Stratford and a valuable supporter of its extensive Criminal Justice program, especially the Student Criminal Justice Cadet Corps.  Certainly, this unique opportunity would not have been possible without the guidance and support of Stratford STEM Magnet School Resource Officer McCormick, East Precinct Commander Imhof, and MNPS Public Information Manager, Don Aaron.

In this case, the MEANS was accomplished by imbedding the Stratford staff at the Police Training Academy, the Forensic Laboratory, and the Executive Management COMSTAT meeting.  This intense participation enabled the teachers and managers to better understand the best ways to prepare Stratford STEM Magnet High School students for a career in criminal justice, corrections, and law.

Untitled 2 Highlights at the Training Academy consisted of learning how the Police serve our community with pride and professionalism.  A detailed overview of their hiring process including qualifications, experience, and education requirements.  This will assist the Stratford staff in identifying the best goals and objectives for the students, and what is realistically required to be competitive in a criminal justice career.  A briefing of the student internship program which provides an opportunity to observe and work in various units of the police department such as Records Division, Identification Unit, Secondary Employment Unit, Domestic Violence Unit, Criminal Investigations Division, Case Preparation Division etc. Students will learn about the departments staffing, mission, activities, records, and services.  In addition, the Stratford staff received an extensive tour of the training facilities, K-9, defensive driving, aviation, and firearms programs.

Highlights at the Forensic Laboratory consisted of tours of the DNA Serology Unit, Drug Identification Unit, Latent Finger Print Unit, Firearms Unit, Tool Mark Unit, and Toxicology Unit. A detailed briefing about how the forensic analysis of evidence is critical to the successful identification and prosecution of criminals. The Stratford staff was especially interested in how the evidence analysis report is documented and how it is used during the judicial process. The Stratford staff learned that they must prepare their students to master attention to detail, provide concise documentation, observe strict laboratory protocol, exhibit dedication to duty, and service to community.

Untitled 3 Highlights of the Executive Management Command staff consisted of attending and observing an Executive Briefing on Computer Statistics aka Compstat, an effective, adaptable and flexible management model or paradigm utilized by Metro Police Command. Compstat has been applied with great success in controlling crime and disorder.

Metro Students Make Bicycle Models with High-Tech Tools

Originally posted on The Tennesseean by Jennifer Johnston

Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools has joined with the Vanderbilt Center for Nashville Studies and Peabody College to create a platform to provide detailed, reliable and recurring information about the commitment of major employers to the public school system. This is the latest installment in a series that tells the story of collaborative involvement between members of the Vanderbilt community and local public schools.


Thirteen Nashville public high school students are spending their summer mornings on the Vanderbilt campus building bicycle models using software tools developed to revolutionize the manufacturing of military vehicles.

The internship project, now in its second year, is facilitated by Brandon Knight and his brother, Justin. Program coordinators for separate projects at Vanderbilt’s Institute for Software Integrated Systems (ISIS), the siblings created a bike shop while growing up in Hartford, Connecticut. They quickly realized tools created at Vanderbilt could be used to excite teen-agers about computer modelling concepts.

Before joining the ISIS team, Brandon Knight taught science at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center in Estes Park, Colorado, and worked for a nonprofit on drop-out prevention. He brought that passion for education to his current job at Vanderbilt.

Under Brandon’s guidance, the interns are working in teams using modeling tools to develop new concepts, much like the engineers who developed the new suite of software as part of a large-scale effort to democratize the vehicle design process and significantly cut design time. The software, which ISIS created for the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, is open source, meaning it is available for free.

The software tools were developed as part of the Automated Vehicle Make (AVM) project in an ambitious effort to totally revamp the way the Department of Defense supplies vehicles to the nation’s troops. Sandeep Neema and Ted Bapty, senior research scientists at ISIS, are principal investigators. Both are also research associate professors of electrical engineering and computer science at Vanderbilt.

By having the students use them to invent bike gadgets, we get valuable feedback on how designers at all levels use the tools.”“While these tools are designed to help build large, complex cyber-physical systems, they also work for smaller-scale projects,” Bapty said. “By having the students use them to invent bike gadgets, we get valuable feedback on how designers at all levels use the tools.”

AVM has an educational component that includes an undergraduate design competition, during which student participants from Vanderbilt worked in a School of Engineering lab with Tom Withrow, assistant professor of the practice of mechanical engineering. Withrow provided input for the start of the summer high school program as well.

The 13 interns hail from Hume-Fogg, Martin Luther King and Stratford high schools in Nashville. The part-time internships are unpaid this summer, but Knight said he hopes to seek possible funding sources.

The ultimate goal of the internship, now in its second year, is to encourage a growing pool of high-tech talent in Nashville that would ultimately attract industry to the area and plant the seeds for young entrepreneurs interested in start-ups.

“We need to re-capture the imagination of the best high school students early on with the excitement and beauty of engineering design,” said ISIS Director Janos Sztipanovits, E. Bronson Ingram Professor of Engineering. ”What could be a better way for this than turning them into makers, challenging them with creating new things and empowering them with engineering tools that help them to freely innovate?”

Founded in 1998 with just 10 researchers, ISIS now has a cadre of more than 180 faculty, staff, students and interns involved in more than 60 active projects. ISIS is a key national player in an effort to design the software-integrated systems that have become an integral part of human lives today – in consumer appliances, vehicles, planes, hospitals, schools, design shops, factories, space systems and energy.

Contact Brandon Knight at for more information about the internship program, including details about a planned presentation of the interns’ projects on Aug. 1.

Teachers Working Alongside Cancer Researchers

Strong relationships with local academy partners is the key to building effective business engagement in our high schools. The Academies of Nashville provide students with meaningful, hands-on learning in context through unique partnerships with local businesses, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. The Teacher Team Externship Program gives teachers an opportunity to have a real-world professional experience at a host organization to develop a project-based curriculum that gives students industry exposure and applied learning. Teachers from Stratford STEM Magnet High School had the opportunity to have an externship with their business partner, the Diatech Oncology. 

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Upon arriving at Diatech Oncology, a Canadian company new to the United States that offers “the test that tailors your cancer treatment,”  we were greeted by our primary host, Patti Ward.  We were taken to their conference room and provided an introduction to the key players and an overview of the company.  Our team was provided a tour of the facilities and given an overview of laboratory safety procedures.  We were also given an in depth idea of what the company does with cancer cells from its training director, Muhammed. On day two we spent more time in the lab with greater introductions to the technology utilized and the chemicals, incubators, and areas where work is completed.

On our final day we examined how their robot mixes the treatment medications with the cells and then how they view that data through their computers.  We further went through the process of how they examine samples from the time they arrive through all testing and data collection.  The three days were and incredibly interesting and amazing experience for our team.  The information involving the research on cancer cells will be expanded into our PBL units involving the ethics involved with cell research through the study of the 1950’s case of Henrietta Lacks.