By Adrienne Luce, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility and Executive Director, Designing Futures Foundation

The HMC Designing Futures Foundation (DFF) awarded a $5,000 grant to support the Center for Advanced Research and Technology’s (CART) 14th annual student showcase event in Clovis, California. STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math) is one of the four core focus areas of the DFF (the other three are architecture/design, environmental sustainability and disaster relief). Since 2010, HMC has supported the CART’s progressive college and career readiness program that integrates a rigorous academic curriculum with hands-on project based learning.


CART stands for the organization’s four principles, “Cognition, Academics, Real-World Relevance and Technology.” As described on the CART website, “Eleventh and twelfth grade students from the Clovis and Fresno Unified School Districts are bused to CART where they attend half-day classes in one of the laboratories taught by teams of instructors from both education and business. The partnership between the school districts and the community is a unique opportunity to make systemic change in education and positively influence the future of all students in the San Joaquin Valley.”

CART is organized around four career clusters: Professional Sciences, Engineering, Advanced Communications and Global Economics. Within those clusters there are 16 different focus areas including such disciplines as: forensics, digital media, law, robotics, biotechnology and hospitality to just name a few.

CEO Rick Watson described how CART emerged from an interest in the late 90s in project-based learning and career readiness. He emphasized the importance of local business partnerships that give CART students real world experiences and the opportunity to try different career paths while still in high school. Some of the local business partners include:

Grundfos Pumps
HMC Designing Futures Foundation
Community Medical Centers

CART also receives support from many key education partners including:

Clovis Unified School District
Fresno Unified School District
Fresno County Office of Education
State Center Community College District
California State University, Fresno
University of California
Fresno Regional Occupational Program

In 2011 the James Irvine Foundation released its findings of a seven-year study of CART’s impact on student success, from 2002-2008, in report titled,“A Model for Success: CART’s Linked Learning Program Increases College Enrollment.” The findings of the study are compelling, “When rigorous academics are combined with demanding technical learning and real-world experience, students are better prepared to succeed after high school. Embracing that Linked Learning model, the Center for Advanced Research and Technology (CART), a high school in Clovis, California, released data that clearly shows hands-on learning can lead to a higher percentage of enrollments in both community college and four-year universities.”

This year’s Student Showcase event gave students the opportunity to share their research with the community. Parents, teachers, community and business leaders packed into the 75,000-SF facility to explore projects on a range of different topics from DNA fingerprinting to stomach cancer, video game design to forensics.

Rick Watson described how CART continually strives to be responsive to its students and to the community. The most recent labs that were added to CART’s offerings were hospitality and event management. In response to feedback from the local agriculture industry, a review of future labor statistics, and concerns about the ongoing brain drain in the Central Valley, the next lab CART is hoping to launch is a product and food safety career path.

CEO Rick Watson summed up CART best when he said, “The relevance and depth of CART changes lives. We teach lifelong work based skills that stick. That’s the power of what we do.”



DNA FingerprintingFrom left to right: Brian Renberg (Clovis West HS) who plans to study genetic engineering, Bryce Fairless (Buchanan HS) who wants to study chemistry, and Phil Vanderville (Bullard HS) who aspires to a career in mechanical engineering. All CART Biotechnology students, they presented the results of their three-month DNA fingerprinting project. They were looking for a specific genotype; the gene that allows you to taste the bitterness of the PTC chemical.

DNA close upHMC’s logo proudly displayed on the award winning DNA Fingerprinting project.

CART Showcase 2Members of the community visit CART’s student showcase event.

CART ForensicsA forensics project, “Whose Blood is it Anyway?”

RamirezDFF College Prep Scholarship recipient, Lucy Ramirez and teacher Matt Jordan. Lucy is a senior at Bullard High and is hoping to study microbiology or immunology at UC Merced or Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in the fall.

Tanner FraleyDFF College Prep scholarship recipient Tanner Fraley is a senior at Clovis North High School who has been interested in engineering since the age of 6. She dreams of becoming a roller coaster designer. Tanner is a quiet student who believes that the CART program, “saved her life.” Tanner’s English teacher, Lynn Rayner  right) says, “Tanner is very creative and can work in many different kinds of materials.” Brian Emerson of the Physics and Robotics Department describes, “Tanner was very shy when she first started at CART last year but she has really blossomed and she is now serving as an ambassador for CART, giving tours to prospective students.”

CART StudentsEmmanuel Akande, Rebekah Young, Paige Stephens, and Danielle Bowden, all CART Biotechnology students, proudly display their Medical Radiation research.

IMG_6627The elements

IMG_3120A project on color and vision that shows how light affects the eye’s perception of different colors of M&M’s.

IMG_3080A mock crime scene is part of the Forensics Lab.

IMG_3099A team presents their Evolution of Routers project.

IMG_6623Bones in the Forensics Lab.

IMG_3062The CART facility, 75,000-SF of hands-on learning.
>>Learn more about CART, watch a video