Ivanka Trump visits high-tech learning site in Waukee

Ivanka Trump and Gov. Kim Reynolds participate in roundtable discussion on workforce development issues with local students, community officials and business leaders. (Caroline Cummings).

Presidential Adviser and First Daughter Ivanka Trump visited a high-tech, professional development learning facility in Iowa Monday, calling the site an "unbelievable example of innovation in education."

Trump joined Governor Kim Reynolds for a tour of the Waukee Innovation and Learning Center, better known as the "APEX," which hosts a number of experimental learning programs for local high school students in conjunction with local business and community leaders.

Trump made the stop to promote workforce development, which is a signature issue for Trump as assistant to the president and Reynolds as governor of Iowa, and tout the Trump Administration's infrastructure plan, which includes expanding training programs at the federal level and lifting some barriers for companies to participate in the programs.

The plan is to also bring broadband to rural parts of the country, which Trump highlighted is important to connect more people to opportunities.

“This is an unbelievable example of innovation in education and pairing the skills being taught in the classroom environment with the jobs in demand in modern economies," Trump said at a roundtable discussion with Reynolds, local officials, business leaders and students.

She also toured two learning labs focusing on robotics and bioscience research and noted how she was pleased to see girls during her visit. Getting more girls and women involved in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM fields, is a key priority of bothTrump and Reynolds, who has her own STEM Advisory Council in Iowa.

“I was personally very excited to see so many young ladies who were here today because women and minorities have been traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields,” Trump said. “As we embark on the fourth industrial revolution, it’s critical that trajectory changes.”

Trump said these STEM and computer skills are vital all across industries in the modern economy.

Students shared their own stories of how their experiences at the sleek APEX complex have enriched their education, helping them to discern their passions and think about careers that might fit with those interests.

“Going into high school a lot of high schoolers feel if you pick a career, that’s something you’re stuck in forever. Having APEX helped me realize if I don’t like it, the skills I have will help me fall back on other careers," said Rohan Gupta, a senior at Waukee High School who plans to attend Iowa State University in the fall.

Ella Titus has participated in a number of the APEX programs, including a business development class she's currently taking. She has dreams of going into fashion design and said many of the STEM-related computer classes have helped her in ways she didn't imagine they would.

"I’ve learned a lot of great technical skills especially in the STEM classes that have really helped me with that. I was able to build my own website so I didn’t have to pay someone to do that for my company," Titus said. She's also a senior at Waukee High School and hopes to start her own LLC before even going to college.

Trump said she hopes to bring back to Washington what she learned from the APEX programs to inform the administrative and legislative action.

“Having her hear our insights on such an amazing program, if that compels her to push such a program throughout the nation then us as students will have succeeded," Gupta said.

Trump did not take questions from reporters after the event; she was swiftly moved out of the building after the conclusion of the roundtable.

Governor Kim Reynolds said she hopes Trump takes the idea with her back to Washington so perhaps similar programs can be scaled in other states, by giving them the "flexibility" to innovate.

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