Tag Archives: stem

technical education career training looking at petri dish

Maricopa Community Colleges strengthen STEM educaton

As part of the State’s FY 2015 budget, the Maricopa Community Colleges received $1.4 million to bolster educational efforts in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math
(STEM) and Workforce areas. This additional funding is the first State appropriation for Maricopa in areas of the STEM and Workforce since 2009.

The criteria used to determine the allocation of the dollars within the Maricopa Colleges was predicated on established programs with strong existing partnerships with business and industry and long-term sustainable employment demand. The $1.4 million will be distributed as
follows:

1. $400,000 to Chandler-Gilbert College for the updating of labs and equipment for its Aviation and Composite Manufacturing Programs.

2. $400,000 to Estrella Mountain College for the expansion of the Energy Program and a new Pathway program (IT Systems).

3. $400,000 to Mesa Community College for the Additive Manufacturing Program and interdisciplinary 3-D Printing Program housed in MCC’s Arizona Advanced Manufacturing Institute.

4. $150,000 for recruitment and student support in STEM programs such as STEM Student Scholar Program and the Hermanas Program.

5. $50,000 for development of a STEM master plan for Maricopa Community Colleges and membership to the STEMconnector Association.

“We are grateful to the Governor and the Legislature for making these funds available to Maricopa and for supporting community colleges statewide,” said Chancellor Rufus Glasper. “This additional funding will help our students receive the best possible STEM education and workforce training experience to help prepare them for transfer to baccalaureate granting institutions and/or movement into the workforce. We will continue to work with State officials to ensure that – along with the K-12 and university systems – we can keep Arizona students educated, trained and ready for whatever tasks lie ahead of them.”

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SRP awards MCC Foundation $270,000

Salt River Project (SRP) will create a Scholars Fund at the Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation to recognize and assist outstanding Maricopa students who are studying a variety of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) related programs. SRP is making a $250,000 contribution that will be provided to the Foundation over the next six years; it will grant renewable scholarships to qualifying students.

SRP will also donate an additional $20,000 – $10,000 each to Chandler-Gilbert and Estrella Mountain Community Colleges – for a total of $270,000. These donations will establish a Get into Energy fund for students pursuing an energy-related career at each school.

“We support students and programs at the 10 Maricopa Community Colleges,” said Dr. Steven R. Helfgot, CEO of the Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation. “With the generosity of supporters like the Salt River Project, we are truly able to offer more resources and opportunities to our students.”

“SRP’s mission when evaluating any scholarship opportunity is to enhance the value added to our community and provide financial assistance to outstanding students. We look forward to this opportunity to partner with Maricopa Community Colleges and hope to, in turn, generate a pipeline of highly skilled potential employees,” said Kellee Zavala, SRP Manager of Talent Acquisition.

bioscience

Bioscience Roadmap gets an extension through 2025

The strategic plan that has guided Arizona’s fast-growing bioscience sector for nearly 12 years is gearing up for a new decade.

“Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap: 2014-2025” will be unveiled starting April 8 at events in Phoenix, Tucson, and Flagstaff, the state’s three metropolitan areas that feature growing bioscience hubs. The plan includes updated strategies that can strengthen and diversify Arizona’s economy while providing Arizonans access to the latest health care innovations.

“The updated Bioscience Roadmap builds on the successes of its first decade and adds contemporary strategies to take Arizona’s bioscience base to the next level,” said Jack Jewett, President & CEO of the Flinn Foundation, which commissioned the update and the original Bioscience Roadmap in 2002. “Arizona is now known as a top emerging bioscience state, but we have far to go to reach our full potential.”

The updated Roadmap will continue to focus on developing Arizona’s biomedical research infrastructure but will emphasize turning this research into new therapies, products, diagnostics, jobs, firms, and other benefits to Arizona. Commercialization, entrepreneurship, creating a critical mass of bioscience firms, and the development of talent are prime themes.

The Roadmap’s overarching vision is for Arizona—a young but rapidly growing state in the biosciences—to become a global competitor and national leader in select areas of the biosciences by 2025.

Over the first decade, Arizona built major research facilities at its universities, formed new private research institutes, attracted top talent, created high-tech business incubators, and greatly expanded statewide STEM (science, technology, education, math) education programs. The number of Arizona bioscience industry jobs grew by 45 percent, nearly four times greater than the nation.

“Arizona has many bioscience strengths and opportunities, but a substantial increase in private and public investment will be needed over the next decade to realize the Roadmap’s goals,” said Walter Plosila, senior advisor to the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice, the Columbus, Ohio-based nonprofit research and development organization that authored the original Roadmap and its update.

Plosila noted that Arizona’s greatest needs are access to risk capital by startup and emerging bioscience firms, building a stronger bioscience entrepreneurship culture, and an expansion of the research infrastructure combined with commercialization at the state’s universities.

The new Roadmap plan features five goals, 17 strategies, and 77 proposed actions. The actions are meant to evolve as needs change over the course of the decade. The plan was developed by Battelle following research, interviews, and focus groups with more than 150 local and national bioscience leaders, including extensive input from Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap Steering Committee, a body of more than 100 statewide leaders in science, business, academia, and government.

“An emphasis on the full spectrum of the biosciences—from research to hospitals to bio-agriculture—and a renewed focus on resources, collaboration, and long-term patience is needed for Arizona to continue its ascent in the biosciences,” said Martin Shultz, Senior Policy Director for Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, who chairs the Roadmap Steering Committee. “The impact can be profound—the biosciences are a multibillion-dollar industry for Arizona.”

There are six industry segments that comprise the biosciences in Arizona: agricultural feedstock and chemicals; drugs, pharmaceuticals, and diagnostics; medical devices and equipment; research, testing, and medical labs; bioscience-related distribution; and hospitals. A new economic-impact analysis by Battelle estimates the total revenue generated annually by Arizona’s bioscience industry—not counting hospitals—to be $14 billion. With hospitals included, the figure exceeds $36 billion.

Based on the latest industry data (2012), Arizona currently has 106,846 bioscience jobs spread across 1,382 establishments and an annual average wage of $62,775—39 percent higher than the private-sector average. These numbers do not include academic research jobs at the state universities or private research institutes.

Hospitals account for the majority of the state’s bioscience jobs. With hospitals removed from the equation, the other segments combine for 23,545 jobs, 1,266 establishments, and average annual wages of $85,571. Growth in the non-hospital segments accelerated dramatically over the last few years.

The bioscience-related distribution subsector is a new addition to Arizona’s bioscience definition, following the lead of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the nation’s bioscience trade association. Companies in this subsector coordinate the delivery of bioscience-related products through processes such as cold storage and product monitoring, and new technologies such as automated pharmaceutical distribution systems. This change also called for several smaller industries to be dropped from Arizona’s definition.

The Roadmap also presents updated data on Arizona’s performance in generating grants from the National Institutes of Health, academic research expenditures, venture capital, and tech-transfer measures involving the state universities. These metrics plus industry measures will be tracked throughout the decade by Battelle and reported by the Flinn Foundation.

The Roadmap also includes analyses of Arizona’s bioscience sector that were critical in developing the strategies and actions, such as an assessment of Arizona’s bioscience strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges. It identified Arizona’s core competencies as cancer research, neurosciences, bioengineering, agricultural biotechnology, imaging sciences, precision medicine, diagnostics, health information technologies, and health economics.

The Flinn Foundation is a privately endowed, philanthropic grantmaking organization established in 1965 by Dr. Robert S. and Irene P. Flinn to improve the quality of life in Arizona to benefit future generations. The Phoenix-based foundation supports the advancement of the biosciences in Arizona, as well as a merit-based college scholarship program, arts and culture, and the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership. “Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap: 2014-2025” is available for download at www.flinn.org.

bioscience

ASU joins STEM mentoring initiative

Today, the College of Technology and Innovation (CTI) at Arizona State University announced its partnership with the “Million Women Mentors” (MWM) initiative. MWM will launch Jan. 8, 2014 during National Mentoring Month, in Washington, D.C at the National Press Club. The initiative will support the engagement of one million science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) mentors – male and female – to increase the interest and confidence of girls and young women to pursue and succeed in STEM degrees and careers.

As a partner in the movement to increase the representation of women in STEM degree programs and careers, CTI has joined with MWM to help proliferate the opportunities for young girls to engage with STEM mentors. The partnership with MWM aligns with CTI’s recently developed Women’s Council for Science and Engineering that brings together partners from the community, college and industry to support academic initiatives and scholarships for women students pursuing STEM degrees at CTI.

“The underrepresentation of girls and women in STEM is of national concern,” said Mitzi Montoya, vice provost and dean of CTI. “It isn’t enough any more to just raise awareness, we need to start implementing change that will move the needle. As a partner in the Million Women Mentors program we are part of a national movement that can inspire more young girls to pursue STEM degrees and careers, as well as mentor and sponsor them along the way.”

In the past 10 years, growth in STEM jobs has been three times greater than that of non-STEM jobs. Today 80% of the fastest growing occupations in the United States depend on mastery of mathematics and knowledge and skills in hard sciences. While women comprise 48% of the U.S. workforce, just 24% are in STEM fields, a statistic that has held constant for nearly the last decade. While 75% of all college students are women and students of color, they represent only 45% of STEM degrees earned each year. Too many of these young women begin in STEM degree but leave those degree paths despite their good academic standing, often citing uncomfortable classroom experiences and disconcerting climate. Even when women earn a STEM degree, they are less likely than their male counterparts to work in a STEM field even though STEM jobs pay more and have a lower wage gap: 92 cents on a dollar versus 75 cents in other fields.

Even more concerning is the underrepresentation of women in engineering, specifically. In 2013, women made up only 19% of the national engineering class, a mere one percentage point increase from 2009. This, along with the need to increase representation in other science, technology and math fields is what drives special academic initiatives like the Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) club at CTI.

Million Women Mentors is a collective effort of more than 40 non-profit, media, education and government industry partners and nine corporate sponsors. Through efforts planned during National Mentoring Month, CTI will actively engage girls, mentoring and STEM. CTI will host a Badge Blast & Imagine Engineering Day for the Girl Scouts—Arizona Cactus—Pine Council, Inc., from 9am-3pm on January 25. The fun-filled day of hands-on badge activities and engineering-focused projects will engage girls in grades two through 12 with the opportunities found in STEM degrees and careers.

To become involved with CTI or Million Women Mentors you can find more information by visiting: innovation.asu.edu and MillionWomenMentors.org.

immigration

Tackle Popular Immigration Reforms Now

Following the results of the election, there appears to be a real window in Washington, D.C. to do something meaningful on immigration.

The just reelected president has made immigration reform a first tier priority.  And many Republicans believe that dealing with this issue is essential to restoring to their party some attractiveness with the two fastest growing groups of immigrants: Asians and Hispanics.  Both groups clobbered the GOP in the election, with approximately 66 percent of Hispanics breaking for the president and Asians going into the president’s column at a whopping 73 percent.

The inability of Republican candidates to capture votes from these important demographic blocs is jarring. In 1996, the GOP Dole-Kemp ticket won 48 percent of the Asian vote. In his successful 2004 reelection campaign, President Bush won over 40 percent of the Hispanic vote. Much has changed.

But more important than any political gains to be had are the economic benefits. As American Enterprise Institute fellow Ben Wattenberg wrote a few months ago, immigration is a comparative advantage for the United States. We need to take full advantage of the fact that the best and the brightest, the hardest working people from around the world desire to work and live in the United States.  This isn’t a situation that we should run from. This is something we should fully embrace.

While there may be the urge to try to fix the entire immigration system in one fell swoop, an all-at-once approach imploded a few years ago.  A step-by-step approach focused on making incremental gains may make more sense.

Yes, we need to bolster security and continue to work towards operational control of the border, but we also need to work on other areas ripe for reform now.

The three areas that should be addressed first:  1) some sort of codification of the president’s mini-Dream Act; 2) a path to increasing the number of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and higher-skill visas; and 3) improvements to our existing temporary worker programs.

Already the president has gone forward via executive order with a Dream Act-type plan that provides a renewable work permit for those who entered the country illegally at a young age and who meet certain conditions, such as military service or enrollment in college.

Shoring this up via legislation is not necessarily dead on arrival in Congress. You will recall that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney criticized the president’s process behind this new program, but he did not attack the substance.  And Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida had been working on a similar proposal to the president’s actions before the executive order.

On visa reform, the U.S. House as early as this week is poised to act on legislation that would increase the number of STEM visas and make it easier for those with green cards to bring over family members.  The trade-off would be an elimination of the diversity visa program.

The public support for reform is there. A poll conducted for the Arizona Business Coalition over the summer found support for the president’s action on undocumented immigrants brought here as children, with 56 percent of respondents favoring the president’s policy while 41 percent were opposed.  This proposal was supported by 76 percent of Hispanics with only 21 percent in opposition.

Regarding Arizonans’ support for a proposal similar to the STEM legislation to be considered by the House later this week, the results are clear. The same poll asked the following question:

“The proposal would create a new category of green cards for highly-skilled foreign students who have earned a masters or doctorate degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics from an American university and have received a job offer to work in the U.S. This would allow these foreign-born students to stay, work, and pay taxes here in the United States. ”

The results?  Eighty percent support and only 19 percent in opposition.

In addition to this STEM proposal we should pass something along the lines of what Sen.-elect Jeff Flake has proposed with his STAPLE Act, which would exempt international STEM graduates educated in the U.S. from visa quotas.

There is also support for addressing obvious U.S. temporary worker needs. Arizona voters were asked:

“In general, would you support or oppose a guest worker program that allows workers from Mexico to cross the border legally and register with American authorities to perform seasonal work on a temporary basis in Arizona?”

The results were 83 percent of respondents in support and only 16 percent registering in opposition.

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is prepared to help advise policymakers on these items, and we’ve established new policy committees – Federal Affairs and Hispanic Business and Emerging Markets – to help provide the analysis they require.

Forgive the sports analogy, but if immigration were a baseball game, we’re down by four runs. It would be nice to hit a grand slam and solve all of our immigration challenges, but we can get the same results by stringing together singles and doubles.

There’s a real opportunity to make substantive reforms to our country’s immigration system. Let’s not let this opportunity pass us by.

Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is committed to advancing Arizona’s competitive position in the global economy by advocating free-market policies that stimulate economic growth and prosperity for all Arizonans. http://www.azchamber.com/

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Science Foundation releases 5-year plan to strengthen STEM education

Ask any leader of a technology company in Arizona what their biggest hurdles are and there is always one common challenge: finding enough homegrown qualified workers to fill their needs.

“Arizona is transitioning to an economy that is increasingly dependent upon a knowledge-based workforce,” said Steve Sanghi, CEO of Microchip in Chandler. “Out No. 1 challenge is to improve the schools. Arizona high schools are near the bottom and if we don’t improve them soon, it’s really going to impact the future.”

Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) is doing something to help Sanghi and other business leader. The nonprofit public-private partnership has launched the Arizona STEM Network. The STEM Network is a first-of-its-kind strategic effort to help transform Arizona’s educational system for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

“The vision for a statewide, strategic commitment to STEM education is coming to fruition,” said Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. “The Arizona STEM Network will help build a common agenda for STEM education that will lead our teachers and students forward.”

The five-year plan being led by SFAz will leverage effective education practices and teaching advances, including the state-adopted, internationally benchmarked Common Core Standards. The Arizona STEM Network will provide educators, the business community and donors with a centralized infrastructure, tools, resources and the framework needed to measure performance and achieve collective impact in Arizona classrooms. The plan’s driving force is to help Arizona children be successful in school, careers and life.

The Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Foundation — which provided $2.2 million for the establishment of SFAz’s STEM initiative, announced a new three-year, $2.1 commitment beginning in this year that will allow SFAz to roll out its plan for the Arizona STEM Network. Also providing financial support for the launch were the Helios Education Foundation, Intel, JPMorgan Chase Foundation and Research Corporation for Science Advancement.

“We believe that the private sector must play an active role in developing the next generation to keep our businesses competitive and our economy vibrant,” said Tracy Bame, president of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Foundation. “A first-rate education that encompasses the STEM disciplines is a foundational step to provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.”

The STEM Network focuses on four strategic areas:

* Integrating STEM learning into Arizona schools and districts.

* Developing and deploying a predictive analytics system to measure impacts.

* Strengthening teacher effectiveness in STEM teaching.

* Creating opportunities for the private business sector to meaningfully engage with schools.

“Arizona must develop a globally competitive educational system and STEM disciplines will lead the way,” said Darcy Renfro, vice president of education and coordinator of the Arizona STEM Network at SFAz. “The Network will link existing STEM assets in Arizona, build on best practices and foster innovative teaching approaches for school districts to help students improve in these areas.”

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Afterschool Programs Get STEM Grants From Cox

Nine afterschool programs around the state will each receive a $1500 STEM grant from the Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence and Cox Communications to support creative efforts to incorporate science, technology, engineering and math into today’s curriculum.

“At a time of shrinking funding in schools across the state, these grants emphasize the critical importance of using an informal STEM approach to curriculum in afterschool and out-of-school-time programs because they remain one of the few opportunities for youth to engage in projects incorporating science, technology, engineering and math,” said Melanie McClintock, Executive Director, Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence.  “The quality of the proposals we received from around the state made the decisions incredibly difficult, but also pointed to the remarkable quality of afterschool programs developed and operating across the state.”
Proposals were submitted from urban, rural, suburban and charter schools across the state as well as from community-based afterschool programs.

Winners are:

Afterschool “All-Stars” Program, Ira A. Murphy School, Peoria:  To purchase iPads for junior high student-led program for students to report, edit and broadcast video morning announcements to the school.

Computer 360 Start to Finish, Introduction to Computer Drafting and Design, Boys & Girls Club of Northern Arizona, Cottonwood:  For implementation of computer technology curriculum teaching youth about basic hardware and software components needed to construct a computer system, basic functionality and operational maintenance.

Gilbert Public Schools, VIK Club, Incorporating Digital Photography into 6 VIK Club sites, Gilbert: Funds will support efforts to increase creative hands-on art projects; enhance and expand children’s passion for books, reading and imagination; and inspire and develop passion for photography as an art form.

Girls Scouts of Southern Arizona, Launch of Gamma Sigma Club, Tucson: To purchase iPads for junior high and high school girls to use current apps to plan their engineering projects, integrate 3-D graphics, spreadsheets, charges and presentations.

JAG Afterschool Program, Jobs for Arizona’s Graduates, Gila Bend, LaJoya, Sierra Linda, Tolleson and Westview High Schools: To help students develop career and college plans and deepen their connection to their school and community through the purchase if iPads for students to use in researching, planning, conducting, editing and producing a series of video interviews with passionate professionals in STEM related careers.

Show Me Light, Tucson Parks and Recreation KIDCO Programs, Tucson: To explore the science of light from a totally different perspective which would end up creating a laser music show as the final product.

Lego Robotic Club, Magnet Traditional School, Phoenix:  To establish a Lego Robotics Club to expose students to STEM in an informal learning setting.

Spartans Science Club, Northland Preparatory, Flagstaff:  To expand STEM projects to include robotics and allow students to identify problems they want to try to solve, design, build, program, troubleshoot and execute by purchasing Lego Education NXT Mindstorm kits.

SPOT 127, KJZZ’s Youth Media Center, Phoenix: To engage youth in project-based activities that build foundational skills in radio and broadcast journalism, music and video production, sound design, media literacy, web design, graphic arts, and social media.

Winners were selected based on their innovative use of science and technology in an informal learning setting, the involvement of students in designing many of the projects and the maximum utilization of the limited dollars available.

Science Scores Improve

Arizona Students’ Science Scores Improve Faster Than The Nation’s

The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) announced that Arizona’s 2011 eighth grade National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Science scores improved three points from its 2009 science scores. NAEP is considered the gold standard in reliable and valid assessments. While the nation’s science scores as a whole improved, Arizona’s science scores improved at a faster rate.

Much of Arizona’s academic gain stems from the state narrowing the science test score gap between White students and Black and Hispanic students and between students not-eligible for free/reduced lunches and those students who are eligible. The test score gap between White students and Hispanic students closed by five points. This is significant considering nearly an equal number of White and Hispanic students were tested, and given Arizona’s large population of Hispanic English language learners.

“I am encouraged by our eighth-graders’ test score gains on NAEP Science from 2009 to 2011, and particularly applaud the concerted efforts of our state’s educators to narrow the performance gap between students from a more fortunate background and those disadvantaged students most at risk,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal.

Superintendent Huppenthal continued, “While we should be encouraged today, too many of our students are still being left behind by their state, national and international peers. It is our imperative as a state and as an education community to close the gap altogether, and not rest satisfied until every student receives an education that prepares him or her to succeed in college and career.”

Arizona has taken bold, important steps toward greater and faster student test score gains in science and other core subject areas.

Arizona leads the way in developing the Next Generation Science Standards along with 25 other states. These new standards are being set to internationally competitive levels in science. Arizona’s adoption of substantially more enriching and rigorous new standards— Arizona’s College- and Career-Ready Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics—will also play a large role in increasing students’ learning in science coursework.

Increased English and math proficiency prepares students to read at a higher difficulty level, make concrete evidence-based arguments, and apply sound mathematical practices.  All of these skills are foundational for teaching science concepts and scientific reasoning and critical thinking at higher levels.

Arizona winning a competitive $25 million U.S. Department of Education Race to the Top (RTTT) grant also plays a key role in supporting the state’s efforts to improve student learning, particularly in science and math. The RTTT grant includes the implementation of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) in the curriculum to support the teaching of Arizona’s College- and Career-Ready Standards, along with the teaching of the Science Standards and Educational Technology Standards. Many districts and charters across the state are implementing STEM programs, and even STEM schools in some cases, to ensure their students are globally competitive.

For more information on the Arizona Department of Education and Arizona’s science scores, visit Arizona Department of Education’s website at azed.gov.