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"nextweb" intranet article:

Conexant Helps Da Vinci Academy to "Home Grow" Next Generation of Engineers

When you have what you need in your own backyard, take advantage of it.

That's the premise behind Conexant's support of the Da Vinci academy, a specialized science and math program at Newport Harbor High School. The company recently presented scholarships to six of the academy's students for outstanding academic achievements. The next day, Conexant hosted 28 juniors and seniors from the academy for an afternoon visit.

The students got a company overview from Chief Information Officer Ashwin Rangan, and a process overview from Senior Process Engineer Jeff Wood, then suited up for a tour of the Fab. Later, the seniors were paired with mentoring engineers, who offered details about what they do every day.

"Since the number of American engineering students is decreasing, schools such as the Da Vinci Academy and its students become very important to companies like Conexant," said Ashwin during the overview.

In fact, Conexant's support of the Da Vinci academy, which began in 1999, is an investment in the company's future, according to Public Affairs Director Celeste Signorino. "It's wonderful to have this treasure in our community," she says. "We have an opportunity to help 'home grow' talented, up-and-coming engineers and build a relationship with them that might lead to employment after they graduate."

Danny Hilton, this year's top scholarship winner, was certainly impressed. "I really lit up at the process presentation -- that's cool stuff," says Danny, who will attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) this fall. He's been interested in engineering since about the 4th grade, when he played with Legos and other toys that promoted creative building.

A Quality Program

With tight budgets, it's critical that the company focus its resources only on the highest quality organizations that yield results, says Scott Allen, Vice President of Communications - the department that oversees Public Affairs. Certainly, the Da Vinci Academy meets those criteria. Now in its sixth year, it's rated as one of the top seven programs of its kind by the State of California. Its students regularly finish first in the state's Physics Olympics. The Academy's director, Scott Dukes, recently received the Exceptional Science Teacher Award from the California Chamber of Commerce - one of many he's earned for excellence during his career.

"This is a very strategic venture," explains Scott. "Da Vinci is the cream of the crop and today's students there may be tomorrow's key talent for Conexant or its customers."

Early Returns

In fact, Conexant is already seeing tangible results from the venture. One former Da Vinci student, who is now studying Electrical Engineering at USC, was an intern in Operations last summer and is back for another internship with the Wireless Communications Division (WCD). Doug Dukes, last year's top scholarship winner, will spend the summer with Conexant in the Process Engineering Group (Operations); Doug finished his freshman year at Rennsalaer Polytechnic Institute ranked number one in his class.

Watch for more details about the Da Vinci Academy and other education programs Conexant supports in future issues of next…

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