St. Joan Antida High School receives multi-year grant from A. O. Smith Foundation for Girls in Engineering Program


St. Joan Antida High School students

The A. O. Smith Foundation has agreed to a second four-year commitment in support of St. Joan Antida High School’s Girls in Engineering program. Located in downtown Milwaukee, Wis., St. Joan Antida is the only high school in the city with a bridge-to-college engineering program for young women. 

The A. O. Smith Foundation has been a long-time supporter of the school’s mission, initially providing scholarship grants for more than 10 years.  In 2012, the Foundation made its initial contribution in support of the Girls in Engineering Program.

The money that A. O. Smith has pledged over the next four years will go toward providing teachers with instructional supplies such as robotics kits, solder kits, software licenses, and access to the latest technology in the engineering field that they, in turn, bring into the classroom. 

St. Joan Antida High School students St. Joan Antida High School has been part of Project Lead the Way (PLTW) program since 2004 and has a hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) based curriculum.  The high school expanded its Girls in Engineering Program in 2009-10 by partnering with the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE).   Approximately 99 percent of SJA students are first-generation college students, and the partnership allowed SJA to use MSOE as a resource to transition young women into college, and specifically into STEM programs.

In 2015 the Girls in Engineering Program expanded once again as SJA was authorized as an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School offering the IB Career-related Program in engineering. The IB program allows students to earn an IB certificate in addition to their SJA diploma and potentially earn pre-college credits. 

According to the U. S. Department of Labor, currently fewer than five percent of American professionals working in STEM-related fields are women. St. Joan Antida’s goal is to encourage young women to pursue science-related careers.

Joel Cencius, director of development and communications, stated that the Girls in Engineering Program is “ . . . a great reflection of a community coming together to solve a problem.” 

Students who complete four years of engineering classes at St. Joan Antida High School have a 100 percent success rate of going to secondary education, he pointed out.  In 2015, more than 10 percent of SJA’s graduating class went on to pursue post-secondary degrees in STEM fields at MSOE.

St. Joan Antida High School hopes to create a more formal resource network for its students.  The vision is to provide graduates with resources to gain employment, internships and real-life experiences.

“A. O. Smith recognizes the importance of investing in a program to help maintain and grow its success,” Cencius said.

More than 60 years ago, St. Joan Antida High School was created to provide educational excellence and service for young women who live and lead in a multicultural world.