by Gerald Luiz

When the NVIDIA Foundation asks employees about which social issues we should address, education is always at the top. As a high tech company, our success is founded on engineering. So, it makes sense that NVIDIAns embrace the We Teach Science (WTS) program.

WTS pairs every student with an NVIDIA employee who will help teach Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subject matter throughout an entire academic year. In our weekly sessions, we mentor students via virtual whiteboard collaboration software on issues related to STEM.

As part of WTS, I get the opportunity to show young students how STEM impacts their lives. I can show them alternatives to learning from textbooks filled with sterile or contrived lessons. I help them think about what they see in sports, movies, and life in general. It’s not about being 100% right but making the effort to gain understanding.

Students in the WTS program get the help they need before they fall behind in school – prevention here is much more effective than playing catch-up. The program also nurtures students’ aspirations to succeed in higher education. This kind of encouragement and reinforcement is something you can only do with the one-on-one mentoring offered by WTS.

We sometimes mentor as a group to share examples.

I walked away from the program feeling like I really made a difference in the mindset of the student. Sure I helped with math skills, but I felt that this was the first time the student spoke with a non-teacher, non-parent about education. Over the year, we spoke about topics beyond problem solving and really established a relationship. My hope is that he came away with an understanding of the importance of education and that the program instilled in him a desire to continue to learn.

Would I do it again? Was it worth it? You bet. This year, NVIDIA will continue to offer the WTS program, and has already signed up over 40 mentors, including myself. Last year was a great learning experience for everyone involved and we are ready to apply those lessons and take the program to new heights.