03/12/2013 10:19 EDT | Updated 05/12/2013 05:12 EDT

Vancouver's school board to focus on applied sciences

The Vancouver School Board has partnered with BCIT and the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of B.C. in the hopes of encouraging more students to enter into the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

The school board says it wants to align its applied science programs to meet the needs of industry.

John Leech, executive director of the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of B.C., said the move would help fill a critical shortage.

"What I hear constantly is, 'I cannot find an engineering technologist or technician'," Leech said. "The need is demonstrable. The need is real. And if it's not critical, it will soon become very critical."

Timothy Leung, a Grade 11 student at Gladstone Secondary School, says his school's robotics program has inspired him to pursue a career in science.

"I think what this meant most to me was using what we used in the classrooms because most classrooms you don't get to apply what you learn everyday," Leung said.

"By doing this we get to, let's say, apply the principles of physics using arms and levers... and I think that was really important to me."

The Vancouver School Board currently has 615 Grade 12 students enrolled in science and applied science programs and another 189 students in trades and technology programs.

In addition to robotics courses at Gladstone and University Hill Secondary, the school board offers engineering courses at David Thompson and Gladstone Secondary Schools.

Later this year, there are plans to launch an information technology and Cisco networking course at Killarney Secondary.