(Note: Based-on article written by Tom Farmer)
STEM education in North Carolina is reaching new heights due to the alliance of a community college, technology association, STEM organization, and group of businesses.
This leadership group organized the second annual STEM East-NCTSA Invitational in February, which gave middle school and high school students a chance to fine-tune their TSA projects and presentations before moving on to state and national championships. The group is about as good as it gets when you consider that they are made stronger through their participation:
- STEM East: The organization furthers its aims of spreading STEM education all across the eastern part of North Carolina.
- NCTSA: The state Technology Student Association, a nonprofit organization, relies on partnerships to help grow its member base.
- Lenoir Community College: Having hundreds of talented and involved students and teachers on its campus for the TSA event is a great recruiting tool.
- Lenoir Committee of 100: This group of business leaders seeks to stimulate economic development and grow a skilled local workforce (today’s students are tomorrow’s workers).
These partners couldn’t have been happier about the regional TSA event. NCTSA State Advisor Jerianne Taylor summed it up best: “The partnership shows how businesses, various educational entities, and career and technical student organizations like TSA can work together to create authentic learning experiences through STEM and competitions.”
This isn’t just about community service – it’s also about preparing young people for a future in the county. John Marston, vice president of the Committee of 100, said his group will be an active leader in future TSA competitions in hopes of increasing school and student participation. This year, the group purchased a CO2 dragster racetrack from Pitsco to help showcase one of the premier events, but they see it as an investment in their future workforce.
“The Committee of 100 recognizes the importance of growing a skilled workforce for eastern North Carolina,” Marston said. “TSA supports the efforts of STEM education in the school system and encourages students to seek STEM-related careers in the future.”
This partnership’s success might lead to even more businesses, industries, and education groups joining the partnership. Mark Pope, executive director of Lenoir County Economic Development, attended the event this year and witnessed strong student engagement and participation, which would be a point of pride and progress for any small community such as Lenoir.
“It is increasingly apparent that STEM skills are vital to every sector of the modern economy,” Pope said. “Increased commitment from business and other stakeholders supporting STEM education is critical. STEM education creates the pipeline of the future workforce.”
The STEM East TSA regional event has been a success for all partners.
“We are all in the business of planting seeds and growing a bright future for the young people of North Carolina,” Taylor said. “To me, it’s a win-win for all involved.”