Rio Americano engineering and manufacturing pathway takes students to national competition

Rio Robotics team with their 2019 robot High schools throughout San Juan Unified offer Career Technical Education (CTE) programs to students. These courses provide hands-on, unpaid training that is designed to prepare them for life after graduation with entry-level, marketable skills.

Students who are a part of Rio Americano High School’s robotics team have worked tirelessly over the past semester to ensure success at the FIRST Robotics national competition in Nampa, Idaho. In fact, they have spent the last few years in Rio’s engineering and manufacturing CTE pathway perfecting their skills in a wide variety of subjects.

Each of the three classes offered throughout the pathway-- Engineering I, Engineering II and Robotics-- align closely with a comparable course at the collegiate level and students in the program are able to earn credit for the course at American River College in Sacramento.

Furthermore, this CTE pathway is sponsored by some of the world’s most prominent companies in technology like Apple, Google and Intel amongst others.

What many of Rio’s engineering students find helpful is their level of preparedness for a career in engineering. They’re learning much of the necessary material in their field of choice that some students could enter straight into the workforce.

Students in the highest course of the pathway can elect to be members of the Rio Robotics team, where they get to compete in high-stakes competitions both regionally and nationally. For the 2019 competition season, the team created a robot named Bumblebee.

“Every part of that robot was manufactured here in our shop by students,” said pathway instructor Matt Cole. “We have a broad spectrum of skills that they they can build and they can design.”

Shane Becker, a senior at Rio Americano and in the robotics program, spoke about the stress he and his teammates felt when preparing for the national competition.

“We [had] six weeks to design, build and program our robot,” said Becker. “Going into every competition, [our robot] didn’t work so we were always trying to figure out what to do, but we always did.”

Learn more about San Juan Unified’s CTE programs at