West Virginia University’s Center for Excellence in STEM Education and West Virginia Forward are working to improve STEM education while encouraging more students to study disciplines that will help build the state’s manufacturing talent pipeline.
A new partnership with MakerMinded, designed and launched in 2016 by LIFT – Lightweight Innovations For Tomorrow, will connect middle school and high school students with cutting-edge STEM and manufacturing learning experiences.
“West Virginia Forward identifies STEM education as essential to a dynamic workforce to prepare for the jobs of the future,” said Joyce McConnell, provost and vice president for academic affairs at WVU. “The average salary of jobs in the advanced manufacturing industry is already over one and a half times the average West Virginia salary, and increasing. MakerMinded serves as a great vehicle to prepare West Virginia students to fill these openings and ultimately help us build a more dynamic talent pipeline.”
As students complete activities and programs online, schools receive points and compete against other schools in West Virginia. The WV MakerMinded’s goal is to sign up 50 schools and 1,000 users across West Virginia by the end of the 2018-2019 academic year. Awards will be presented to the top performing schools for their engagement in May 2019.
“Energizing students to learn about STEM fields and advanced manufacturing at an age when they are beginning to plan their futures is critical to help pave pathways to these in-demand careers,” said Gay Stewart, director of the Center for Excellence in STEM Education. “By providing a portfolio of career exploration activities, interactive projects and other experiential learning opportunities, we are encouraging and preparing West Virginia youth to pursue meaningful careers.”
West Virginia will become part of LIFT’s national MakerMinded initiative that includes campaigns in Detroit, Idaho, Indiana Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.
“The innovative MakerMinded platform has shown the ability to attract students to the world of advanced manufacturing and we are thrilled to be able to prepare the next generation of West Virginia innovators and makers,” said Emily DeRocco, vice-president education and workforce development, LIFT.
The program’s expansion into West Virginia is made possible through a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense’s National Defense Education Program.