Partnering Industry and Education for Real-World Learning
The 250-student Waukee Innovation and Learning Center (WILC) is a comprehensive educational experience for students in the Aspiring Professional Experience (APEX) program at Waukee High School near Des Moines, Iowa. The program is an example of how businesses and our educational system can work together to produce personalized learning experiences that prepare the next generation of professionals for 21st century opportunities. When Apple CEO Tim Cook toured the facility, he called the facility “a model for the country” and noted “we need this kind of opportunity for every kid in America.”
Designed to prepare students for the region’s most in-demand careers, the building functions much like a modern workplace, housing collaborative spaces, meeting rooms, accelerators, decompression zones, a cafe and industry specific studios. All of this comes together to support the school’s curriculum, which is focused on five strands: business and finance, engineering, technology, health services, and biosciences and added value agriculture.
The design process was comprehensive, involving our full school community, and requiring participants to stretch their thinking. Everyone was engaged in thinking outside the box to create new and unique learning spaces that represent what our students will experience in the private sector and beyond! I was extremely pleased with the process and end result and am confident our students and communities will benefit for years to come.
David J. Wilkerson, Ph.D.