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Externship Helps STEM Teacher Tie Real-World Concepts to ‘Virtual’ Careers

Design Mill, Inc. in Dubuque provides an emergent line of work, creating virtual reality experiences of warehouses for industrial clients to use in real estate or for employee training purposes. Like most STEM careers in Iowa, new ones like this crop up almost every day.
Fortunately each summer, Iowa teachers of STEM subjects have the opportunity to keep up with the trends and immerse themselves in these innovative careers through Iowa STEM Teacher Externships , finding new ways to teach these evolving employability skills and connect what students learn to the jobs in their neighborhoods. This summer, Mike Jensen, an industrial technology teacher at Dubuque Senior High School, is linking up with Design Mill, Inc. to connect his CAD/Modeling classes to the lucrative world of virtual reality.
“I can certainly see an application in education of what I am doing here,” Jensen said. “We take 3D laser scans of buildings and convert them from point clouds to mesh models that are then imported into virtual reality. In the end, large-scale real estate firms can virtually showcase facilities to customers or employers can scan a facility to document videos for training purposes.”
By the end of his six-week experience, Jensen will have created an inspiring, problem-based project for his students that puts to work the skills and ideas he gained, and he will have developed a strong, lasting school-business partnership with Design Mill, Inc.
“We’re not going to lie,” said Jasmine Nobis-Olson, Design Mill’s creative content manager. “Having an extra team member to accomplish tasks is great, but we really enjoy interacting with someone who can bring fresh perspectives to our projects and business, especially someone coming from an education background that we can push ideas back through the pipeline to prepare the future workforce.”
Jensen is one of 66 Teacher Externs this summer across Iowa making it their mission to learn more about the STEM careers available to their students. For more information about the program, visit .