Strategies That Engage Minds

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Technically, STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education, however in eastern NC, STEM has taken on a new meaning: “Strategies That Engage Minds”. The STEM education initiative is important to the Eastern North Carolina region because it introduces school-aged children to concepts and applications that are applicable in the real world work environment. Through this interaction, students learn about opportunities in the workplace that could lead them into a career choice or field of study. This experience opens students up to the possibility of a career in advanced manufacturing, health and life sciences, facility maintenance, or even engineering right here in Eastern North Carolina.

Technically, STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education, however in eastern NC, STEM has taken on a new meaning: “Strategies That Engage Minds”. The STEM education initiative is important to the Eastern North Carolina region because it introduces school-aged children to concepts and applications that are applicable in the real world work environment. Through this interaction, students learn about opportunities in the workplace that could lead them into a career choice or field of study. This experience opens students up to the possibility of a career in advanced manufacturing, health and life sciences, facility maintenance, or even engineering right here in Eastern North Carolina.

The STEM education initiative has seen great success and continues to gain momentum in eastern North Carolina. Currently there are 55 STEM Centers located in schools throughout the region with others scheduled to open in 2016-17. Because of its proven track record of success in STEM education, STEM East was one of 27 local and regional networks for STEM learning invited to Washington DC to discuss STEM education and federal STEM policy. This placed STEM East on the stage with national foundations dedicated to improving awareness and growth of STEM education programs. 

Most recently, STEM East hosted the 3rd Annual E2 Summit where employers and educators came together to discuss trends, initiatives, and strategies for STEM education in the east. The purpose of the summit was to facilitate the conversation between educators and employers for the promotion and alignment of STEM education and increased relevancy of instruction. Leaders from several regional companies discussed skill needs and employee hiring projection reports so educators can better align STEM instruction and advise students. During the conference, it was officially announced that STEM East had been invited to represent North Carolina as a member of the national STEM EcoSystem in which multiple national foundations engage with 27 members across the country.

The national STEM EcoSystems Coalition is the driven by the STEM Funders Network (SFN). The STEM Funders Network (SFN) is comprised of a diverse mix of education-focused philanthropies from across the nation. The overall goal of the Network is to advance STEM education by leveraging the collective voice, resources, and strategies of its members. SFN objectives are to increase STEM grant maker knowledge and expertise; and engage in high-impact projects no grant maker could undertake alone. 

STEM East’s success has been recognized not only nationally but throughout the region as well. These include Hyster-Yale Materials Handling (motor vehicle assembly and parts manufacturing), Mayne Pharma (biopharmaceuticals/life science) and Spirit AeroSystems (aerospace). Hyster-Yale established its presence in eastern NC in 1970. Since that time the company has seen great success in the region and as a result moved its Americas Headquarters and electric lift trucks design department to its Greenville, NC location. Hyster-Yale is one of the largest employers in the region, employing over 1,000 eastern NC residents. Mayne Pharma is an Australian-based pharmaceutical company that acquired a local life science startup originally operating as Metrics, Inc. The company employs over 350 highly skilled workers including a sizeable number of analytical chemists. In 2015, Mayne Pharma was awarded Pitt County’s Industry of the Year due in part to its $65 million expansion announcement that is slated to create another 110 jobs. Spirit AeroSystems’ assembly plant located in the Global TransPark employs over 500. The assembly plant produces the carbon fiber composite center fuselage and the front wing spar segments for the Airbus A350 XWB-1000. These components are then shipped via North Carolina ports to various European destinations for final assembly.

Through their financial and human resource commitments, these companies will become members of the Employers and Superintendents Council that includes public school leaders from eleven counties. These companies understand that one of the most important assets to an employer is a qualified workforce and they are proactively engaging in the development of tomorrow’s talent through their investment and involvement in STEM East and their local school systems.

 The Employers & Superintendents Council (ENC ESC) acts as a coalition focused on providing opportunities for eastern North Carolina students through the STEM East Network. Through this partner network, resources and information can be more efficiently distributed to sustain and expand the network to a viable STEM Ecosystem – producing skilled graduates “just in time” for expanding industries.  Currently, the STEM East Network Council represents more than 48,000 jobs and 120,000 students.

For more information about STEM East, please contact Dr. Steve Hill at 252-689-6496 or hill@nceast.org or visit www.stemeast.org. STEM East operates as a component of the NCEast Alliance, a regional economic development agency serving 28 counties in eastern North Carolina (www.nceast.org).