Living Coast Discovery Center Awarded $10,000 Grant from UTC Aerospace Systems’ Goodrich Foundation to Support Student Scientist Series for Local Teens

The Living Coast Discovery Center, a nonprofit zoo and aquarium located on San Diego Bay in Chula Vista, has been awarded a $10,000 grant from UTC Aerospace Systems’ Goodrich Foundation to support a new STEaM educational program that combines classroom learning and hands-on, real-world applications for middle and high school students

The Student Science Series is an innovative educational program for students in grades six through 12, designed to generate excitement around the fields of science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEaM). The program utilizes underwater Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) to teach students about engineering concepts, design applications, and STEaM career opportunities, while also developing teamwork and problem-solving skills through fun, interactive challenges.

The Living Coast’s ROV program is the only one in San Diego County to offer students the unique opportunity to conduct their final vehicle dives within a live shark enclosure, filled with dozens of sharks, rays and other marine species, rather than a traditional swimming pool.

The ROV program helps students meet several STEaM learning initiatives, including national Next Generation Science Standards. Students learn how to build a propulsion and electrical system, develop a controller and investigate density and buoyancy.  

In the classroom, students construct their own undersea ROVs with guidance from teachers who have completed a training workshop at the Living Coast Discovery Center. During the lesson, Living Coast educators also visit the classroom to teach students about real world applicability of the concepts they are learning. Students are then assigned a challenge in which they must modify their ROV to complete a professional-style task out in the field. The assignment culminates with the opportunity for students to deploy and operate their ROVs inside the Living Coast’s 21,000-gallon shark and ray exhibit.

UTC Aerospace Systems - Aerostructures, formerly Goodrich Aerostructures, operates a facility adjacent to the Living Coast Discovery Center on the Chula Vista waterfront and has a history of supporting programs at the center. The Student Scientist Series grant was sponsored by Kyle Strong, associate general counsel for UTC Aerospace Systems, who currently serves on the Living Coast’s board of directors.

“Supporting the Living Coast Discovery Center is a perfect example of our commitment to being a socially responsible business,” said Marc Duvall, president of UTC Aerospace Systems – Aerostructures. “The center and its programs align with our goals of helping to build vibrant communities and advancing STEM education.”

“Thanks to the generous support of UTC Aerospace Systems and the Goodrich Foundation, we are able to provide valuable, hands-on STEaM educational opportunities to many more students in underserved communities,” said Ben Vallejos, executive director of the Living Coast Discovery Center. “These successful community collaborations empower us to make a real and meaningful difference in the South Bay and beyond, and helps us foster the next generation of science, technology and environmental leaders.” 

About the Living Coast Discovery Center

The Living Coast Discovery, a 501(c) 3 educational zoo and aquarium located within the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge on San Diego Bay, began operating as a non-profit in 2010 after assuming operations of the Chula Vista Nature Center. The Living Coast Discovery offers hands-on exhibits and up-close encounters with more than 350 plant and animal species native to Southern California coastal habitats, including endangered sea turtles, sting rays, leopard sharks, jellies, shorebirds, reptiles and a large collection of raptors such as hawks, falcons, owls, American bald eagle, golden eagle, and more. More information about the Living Coast Discovery Center is available at or (619) 409-5900.

About The Goodrich Foundation

For decades, the Goodrich Foundation has enhanced local communities with financial support, making a difference in the communities where its employees live and work. In 2012, Goodrich Corp. and Hamilton Sundstrand combined to form UTC Aerospace Systems as part of the United Technologies family. One of the foundation’s key focus areas is advancing STEM education with programs focused on the next generation of engineers and scientists. More information can be found at