Osceola County high school students will tour the smart-sensor manufacturing facility BRIDG and UCF’s NanoScience Technology Center next week as part of a new initiative designed to prepare students for high-tech fields.

The program is part of an ongoing effort by the Osceola County School District to expand its Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum. To create the new initiative, the School District has partnered with the SEMI Foundation, a California-based nonprofit organization that supports education and career awareness in the electronics and high-tech fields.

The result of the partnership is Osceola’s SEMI High Tech University, a three-day workshop for high school students who want to know more about technology careers. Students work directly with industry experts and participate in hands-on workshops. Osceola is the first school district in Florida to adopt the internationally acclaimed program.

BRIDG and the University of Central Florida will take center stage when the first group of rising 11th graders come together June 13-15.

BRIDG is an industry-led consortium focused on the manufacturing development of advanced smart sensors, imagers and microchips. BRIDG, which was founded with support from UCF, Osceola County and the Florida High Tech Corridor Council, held a ribbon-cutting in April to celebrate the opening of one of the most advanced fabrication labs in the world at NeoCity, located across from Osceola Heritage Park.

“It’s all about creating sustainable economic prosperity for our region and state,” BRIDG CEO Chester Kennedy said. “A critical component of economic transformation is creating job opportunities and having the skilled talent necessary for these jobs. This program is a way to help build the future workforce and spark interest in STEM-based careers early on.”

The NanoScience Technology Center in Central Florida Research Park houses university faculty members who conduct groundbreaking nanotech research in energy, electronics, medicine and other fields.

Students will tour both to investigate how high-tech STEM solutions are used to solve real-world problems, to enhance students’ perceptions about STEM, and to generate excitement for world-class, high-tech jobs in the area. A related program for teachers on June 7-8 is designed to connect the classroom experience to careers in technology for educators.

The program will be available to qualified students and teachers at no cost to them and serve as the pilot program for the Central Florida region.