The idea almost seems too simple: engage employers in the education of our children so that there is a pipeline of qualified talent for area industries. After all, we see it in sports so often. Take baseball for example, where there are 3 tiers to the minor league system to develop talent before making it to the big leagues. What would happen if we placed as much emphasis on our children’s education and their preparation for a future job as we do for sports?
Eastern NC – April, 2014 – The idea almost seems too simple: engage employers in the education of our children so that there is a pipeline of qualified talent for area industries. After all, we see it in sports so often. Take baseball for example, where there are 3 tiers to the minor league system to develop talent before making it to the big leagues. What would happen if we placed as much emphasis on our children’s education and their preparation for a future job as we do for sports? This is at the heartbeat of STEM East. What began as a response to the needs of local industry in Lenoir County, NC in 2008 has blossomed into a Mecca for those seeking to develop the workforce of tomorrow.
These centers have direct relationships with keystone industries and are providing curricula that align with industry workforce needs. The centers are a springboard for a regional, sustainable STEM education process that can flex to meet emerging workforce deficits. Businesses can access the network to communicate directly with the education/workforce development system and influence the development of learning modules and student educational experiences. Ultimately, employers are able to have a direct impact in the development of a pipeline of qualified talent.STEM East is aligning innovative education programs with industry standards to support regional career pathways, build a solid workforce and add considerable value for relocating and expanding industries. The initiative has achieved success by establishing high-performing STEM Learning Centers in several counties along the East/West aerospace corridor of eastern North Carolina which includes companies like AAR, Eaton, Honeywell, Spirit AeroSystems and the Fleet Readiness Center East on board MCAS Cherry Point.
36 STEM Centers will be in place by 2016; the program established its first 5 centers in 2011. Recent data has shown a 26% overall increase in students interest in STEM related careers and 90% of students in schools with career exploration STEM Centers are completing a STEM course for credit. Additionally, one local principal reported up to a 20% increase in end-of-grade science test scores which was attributed to implementation of the school’s STEM Center.
This success isn’t going unnoticed. On April 24-25, leaders in STEM from across the country will gather in Washington DC for the first annual International Association for STEM-Leaders awards as a part of the STEM Leadership Summit. STEM East has been nominated for the STEM Economic Development and Community Engagement Leadership Award. Additionally, Executive Director, Steve Hill has been invited to speak at numerous events around the country and others are so intrigued that they are visiting eastern NC to experience the network firsthand.
A group of education officials from Huntsville, Alabama and Omaha, Nebraska recently visited the area to learn more about STEM East and visited STEM centers at three schools in Craven County, North Carolina. The group expressed interest in exploring programs that could further their own STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) offerings.
The Huntsville, Alabama, group visited centers in action, speaking with students, teachers, and Craven County school officials. Accompanying them were STEM East officials and representatives from Pitsco Education, the company that produced the centers.
To Steve Hill, executive director of STEM East, building a vibrant regional economy is all about getting differing groups to collaborate on a common cause. “A strong STEM community supports the connecting of educators with employers,” said Hill. “This in turn supports the creation of curriculum relevant to modern career skills, thus better aligning successful student career pathways and encouraging more economic growth via a well-prepared graduating workforce.”
The NCEast Alliance is a regional economic development agency serving more than 1 million residents within several small metropolitan and micropolitan areas from the fringe of the Research Triangle to the Atlantic Coast. The Alliance provides community capacity building and assists companies with site location and expansion assistance. For more information on the NCEast Alliance, visit us at www.nceast.orgor call 1-800-474-8499.