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Lee's Summit R-7 program and students take the center stage during President Obama's July 24 Missouri visit to Warrensburg

Lee's Summit R-7 program and students take the center stage during President Obama's July 24 Missouri visit to Warrensburg

July 24, 2013

MIC students receive T-shirts as they prepare to meet the president

By Janice Phalen
Photo courtesy Janice Phalen

Nationally recognized program partners R-7 with UCM, MCC and businesses to create an affordable program that bridges gap between graduates and workforce demands
Lee's Summit R-7 students took the center stage the evening of July 24 during a history-making presidential visit to Warrensburg. President Barack Obama spoke at the University of Central Missouri where he praised the Missouri Innovation Campus (MIC), a one-of-a-kind program located within the Lee's Summit R-7 School District. Through MIC, Lee's Summit R-7 high-school students and students from participating area districts receive relevant, valuable on-the-job experience, earn a high-tech college degree at an accelerated pace at virtually no cost for the students or their families.
MIC was created through a collaborative partnership involving the University of Central Missouri (UCM), Metropolitan Community College (MCC) and a growing number of industry-leading business partners.
During the event at UCM July 24, President Obama called MIC "a recipe for success over the long term," adding that the program "prepares our kids for the global competition they will face."
"Not only do you graduate debt-free, you have a great job waiting for you at the end," President Obama said. "I want the entire country to notice this," adding that he has asked his entire team to reach out to college presidents, superintendents and industry leaders nationally to encourage others to use the MIC model.
Even before the president's visit, the Missouri Innovation Campus had rapidly gained regional and national recognition for offering students affordable training for high-demand college degrees. Just recently, MIC came to the attention of the White House with the decision to schedule the president's speech at UCM directly tied to the MIC program, which is headquartered at Lee's Summit R-7's Summit Technology Academy.
The president's visit not only shines the national spotlight on the Lee's Summit R-7 collaborative program, it gave MIC students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet the president and be a part of President Obama's speech to the packed auditorium.
"We have been proud of the Missouri Innovation Campus as well as the students and staff members involved," said Dr. David McGehee, Lee's Summit R-7 superintendent. "Since its launch in fall 2012, the program has quickly become a model for schools across the nation. It has been especially rewarding to see MIC receive this national attention and to have our students be a part of a presidential visit. Our vision is to continue to expand MIC so even more students can take advantage of this affordable path to an accelerated college degree."
Dr. McGehee, along with leaders from UCM and MCC, met briefly with President Obama before the president's speech in Warrensburg.
MIC students involved in the first cohort class had the opportunity to meet the president following his speech to the Warrensburg audience and to the nation thanks to coverage of the event by regional and national media. Brian Green, a MIC student who attends Lee's Summit North High School, was selected to introduce the president.
Brian added about the MIC program, "The MIC program is one of the greatest opportunities I've been blessed with. For me, it is the perfect way to gain experience and learn to prepare for my future career."
Lee's Summit High School student Michael Robertson said, "Being a part of Missouri Innovation Campus provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for affordable college and other education that can lead to a future career in the vast information technology field. I am very honored and grateful to have been allowed into this program because college is pretty expensive and finding a job after college can be a struggle."
Joey Nooner, a Lee's Summit West High School 2013 graduate, agreed. "Being a part of the MIC program has given me a great opportunity to start my career," the MIC student said. "Being amongst the first makes me realize that there's a world of opportunity out there – you just have to go out and find it."
Quinn Cosgrove, a MIC student and 2013 LSWHS graduate, also praised the partnering organizations and educators involved in the program. "I feel like it is a great idea, and the people powering it are really in it for your benefit," he said. "I truly feel that this program will succeed with all of its future endeavors."
"I'm so proud of the MIC students for stepping up to the plate to take on a challenging path to a higher education degree program," said Elaine Metcalf, director of the Lee's Summit R-7 School District's Summit Technology Academy. "The opportunities that will be afforded to the students through their internship experiences will be remarkable."
A total of 17 students are currently completing their summer internships in the Systems Engineering Technology program, now in its second year. An additional five students are enrolled in the second cohort of the Systems Engineering Technology degree and are taking college coursework this summer. The newest program, known as Engineering Technology/Design and Drafting (CADD), has 10 students enrolled.
Engineering Technology/Design and Drafting courses begin officially this summer and are available through the Lee's Summit R-7 School District's Summit Technology Academy. The summer interns in this class will be the first cohort to begin the new four-year program.
Students begin the MIC as high-school juniors. The first course offered through the Missouri Innovation Campus, Systems Engineering Technology, began in fall 2012 with a second cohort beginning this program in fall 2013. Both Systems Engineering Technology and Engineering Technology/Design and Drafting (CADD) provide students with the opportunity to earn a high-tech bachelor's degree just two years after graduating from high school.

Each career-oriented course challenges students with a rigorous curriculum that prepares them for high-demand careers and reduces their higher-education costs to almost nothing.

Through the Missouri Innovation Campus, students greatly reduce time spent earning their college degrees. They will complete an associate's degree from Metropolitan Community College by the semester after high-school graduation, earning either a bachelor's degree in Systems Engineering Technology or a bachelor's degree in Engineering Technology/Design and Drafting (CADD)from UCM within two years after high-school graduation. Throughout the students' involvement in the four-year process, they participate in high-impact internships and on-the-job education thanks to the partnering businesses.

These companies, which include Cerner, DST, Saint Luke's Health Systems, Lee's Summit R-7 School District, Black & Veatch, Burns & McDonnell, Honeywell, KCP&L, the City of Lee's Summit and Grundfos, enter into participation agreements with the MIC. The companies help underwrite the cost of training provided by the Innovation Campus through paid internships for the MIC students. The Innovation Campus has also received state grants totaling $1.5 million to assist with these program costs.

The Innovation Campus programs as well as Summit Technology Academy are open to qualifying students from Lee's Summit R-7 as well as the 19 area high schools sending students to Summit Tech.

The sending high schools pay tuition to the R-7 School District for the MIC courses as well as other high-tech programs offered at the school.

For more information about the MIC, visit http://sta.leesummit.k12.mo.us/ or http://www.ucmo.edu/about/mic.  

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