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AUHSD Unveils First-in-Nation Partnership With Tesla Foundation (English / Korean / Spanish / Vietnamese)


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The Anaheim Union High School District is the first public school district in the nation to partner with the Tesla Foundation to provide students with training to successfully work in the emerging technology field of unmanned aviation, or drones.


A nonprofit science and technology think tank, the Tesla Foundation is launching its initiative beginning at Magnolia High School with after-school programs featuring Federal Aviation Administration approved curriculum, equipment, and Drone Flight Simulation Kits. The foundation’s goal is to identify and develop a “farm system” of young talent that can be future innovators and entrepreneurs in the unmanned systems industry. 


“We are excited to partner with the District in this most critical endeavor,” said Keith Coleman, chief strategy officer of the foundation. “Our focus is looking at the future of jobs and the future of work. Automation and the disruption that it will bring is real, yet while jobs will be lost, there will be lots of new opportunities in the (new) field of aerial robotics. Through this partnership, we will help move the needle forward for underrepresented students who may not otherwise have a pathway to these experiences. The Tesla Foundation sees critical thinking and access to technology as the democratization of opportunity.”


Trustee Al Jabbar thanked Superintendent Mike Matsuda for making the connection that led to the partnership. He also thanked the Tesla Foundation for “recognizing that AUHSD is at the cutting edge in preparing students for the 21st Century workforce. Once parents and the community learn about how this partnership promotes innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship in an emerging STEAM field, I know they will be as enthusiastic as we are.”


The Tesla Foundation estimates that the economic impact of drones will be $82 billion within the first decade of their operational integration into the national airspace system. Drone industries leverage many key technologies, including cybersecurity, sensors, data analytics, aeronautics, aviation, advanced and additive manufacturing, precision agriculture, first responders, geospatial information, and simulation.


Superintendent Matsuda said he is grateful for the foundation’s commitment to providing world-class educational, training, and mentorship opportunities to AUHSD students.


“The Tesla Foundation is at the forefront of creating, promoting, and protecting American jobs and companies through innovation,” the superintendent said. “Public-private partnerships such as ours are vital for the development and economic growth of our nation. The foundation is placing their faith in our students’ capabilities and there is no doubt in my mind that the students will exceed their expectations.”


Mr. Matsuda said the partnership will also help build AUHSD’s capacity in addressing the important national issue of cybersecurity, since Magnolia High School is home to Orange County’s first high school Cybersecurity Pathway. It will also build upon the dual credit opportunities offered to AUHSD students at Cypress College through its program focusing on the workforce of the future. The long-term goal is to offer these opportunities to all students.


The Tesla Foundation was co-created in 2014 by Wilhelm Cashen, his late wife Carol Bourgeois, and Keith Kaplan. Wilhelm Cashen is a physicist, robotic engineer, and is co-founder of Standard Solutions. Keith Kaplan is a computer scientist, technologist,  founder of KKMedia Inc. and former creative and technology director at Creative Couch. The founding advisory board members were: Daniel Golden, former director of NASA and creator of the Space Shuttle program; Linden Blue, partner and vice chairman of General Atomics and creator of the MQ 9 drone program for the U.S. Air Force; and Fredrick Smith, founder of Federal Express–FedEx.


AUHSD and the Tesla Foundation believe that by extending STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) opportunities to all—particularly underrepresented young people who are underutilized in those industries—new jobs, innovative ventures, and a wealth of talent, creativity, and energy will be unleashed producing an engine for positive change in the economy and the nation.