Calif. lawmaker proposes new UC campus specializing in ‘STEAM’

Assemblymember Mike Gatto (D-Glendale) has proposed legislation that would start the process of creating a new University of California campus. The new campus would be devoted to science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM). According to the press release about the bill, the new campus would be comparable to the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena. The release also referred to the new campus at “UC Tech.”

Assembly Bill 1483, if passed, would require the Legislative Analyst’s Office to conduct a study on the possibility of establishing a new University of California campus. The study would also look for potential locations for the new campus. The bill would require that the report be submitted to the Legislature on or before Jan. 1, 2017. The bill, if passed, would appropriate $50 million from the General Fund and would go towards acquiring land and initial building costs.

Assemblymember Gatto introduced AB 1483 to solve two problems. The first problem, he said, is that the University of California system is overcrowded. UC Berkeley, for example, received 44,564 applications from California students, but only admitted 8,391 in 2014. The second problem is that California industries, “from animation to aviation to app-design,” are having trouble finding candidates for job openings with the specialized training they require.

The press release for the bill shared a 2013 quote from an interview Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook gave to code.org. In the interview Zuckerberg said, “Our policy at Facebook is literally to hire as many talented engineers as we can find. There just aren’t enough people who are trained and have these skills today.” Gatto believes the bill helps “fill the needs of employers looking for employees who are both creative and technologically savvy.”

The University of California currently operates ten campuses. The campuses include Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Merced, Riverside, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz. UC Merced, the newest campus of the UC, was established in 2005. However, the UC Board of Regents voted to begin the process for a new campus in 1988. Therefore, if AB 1483 is passed, the state still has many years before students would be able to enroll at “UC Tech.” According to Gatto, “it is time for the legislature to prioritize higher education with bold moves, ones that will make a meaningful difference in the educational levels and skill-sets of Californians for generations to come.”

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