Biggest-ever group of Ventura County students graduate from pre-engineering program

More than 30 high school students from around Ventura County graduated from Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division (NSWC PHD)’s fall 2022 Pre-Engineering Program — the biggest cohort to date for the rigorous after-school program.

The Dec. 13 graduation ceremony at the Oxnard Harbor District office in Port Hueneme culminated a 12-week career exploration course in which 32 students from Oxnard Union High School District, Ventura Unified School District (USD) and Santa Paula USD learned from real-life naval engineers and gained hands-on experience.

“One of the beauties of this program is what we call positive professional touch points,” said Ramon Flores, NSWC PHD’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) coordinator, speaking to families at the graduation. “Your students had the opportunity to engage with more than 30 engineers and scientists over the course of 12 weeks to learn all things engineering.”

NSWC PHD facilitates the Pre-Engineering Program twice per year in partnership with the school districts and other naval organizations. The fall 2022 session was the first to include students from Santa Paula USD, which signed an Educational Partnership Agreement with NSWC PHD in July, enabling the naval command to share educational resources with the school district.

During the Pre-Engineering Program, students rotated through engineering instructors to hear their career stories and to design, build and test projects that represent several disciplines, from systems and electrical engineering to environmental and aeronautical engineering. The instructors were professional engineers with NSWC PHD, Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center (NAVFAC EXWC) at Naval Base Ventura County, the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, and the Engineering Duty Officer School on the NSWC PHD campus.

After applying for the competitive Pre-Engineering Program through their school counselors, the selected participants took the weekly classes at Fathomwerx Lab on top of their regular academic schedules. After completing the program, the students earned credit toward graduation, a certificate of achievement and a letter of recommendation signed by NSWC PHD Deputy Technical Director Michael Ladner.

During the graduation ceremony, naval officials and school district administrators praised the students for dedicating their time and efforts to expand their STEM knowledge and their career prospects.

Joe Bova, career technical education administrator at Ventura USD, said that his district and others across the county are working to bring more skill-based opportunities like the Pre-Engineering Program to more students.

“This program is a shining star of the community that everyone should be looking to in terms of work-based learning,” Bova said.

Students from Ventura were:

  • Buena High School Peter Nguyen Jordan Tran
  • El Camino High School Christian McGrath Maximus True Bashar Zaher
  • Foothill Technology High School Alexander Edwards Antonio Franco Andrew Hotzler
  • Ventura High School Léo Crampé Jeannie Ortega Fuentes Liam Genkel Arkiran Khaira
  • Pacifica High School Kalia Lomeli

For more information, contact Theresa McKenrick, NSWC PHD public affairs officer, at

(805) 228-0332 or [email protected].

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