Virginia Tech is leading a team of Virginia universities to develop a statewide STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education network that will provide access to quality STEM programming for learners of all ages and help prepare Virginia’s students for high-demand jobs of the future.

4-VA, a Virginia university collaborative that promotes collaborations to leverage the strengths of each partner university in the commonwealth, has awarded a grant to the university consortium, which includes George Mason University, James Madison University, the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Virginia Tech, to support its work.

The universities have joined forces to create an inventory of available STEM programming, as well as host a STEM summit where education leaders from across the state will envision future STEM opportunities for all Virginians. This work will inform the group’s efforts to create a blueprint for the statewide education network and serves as an important first step in the development of this comprehensive initiative that will create a unified statewide vision to guide how Virginia’s students are being prepared to meet the growing demand for STEM-savvy employees.

Statewide STEM networks that provide access to STEM curriculum through classroom instruction, teacher training workshops, and community activities and events have already been established in over half of the states in the U.S. 

“In order to ensure we are addressing needs and aspirations, we’re working closely with key stakeholder groups, including STEM leaders who serve at the national level; state government officials; educators; and business, community, and military leaders; and members of Virginia’s recently appointed Governor’s STEM Education Commission,” said Phyllis Newbill, outreach and engagement coordinator for Virginia Tech’s Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT). Newbill is leading Virginia Tech’s efforts on the project through its Center for Research in SEAD Education.

The STEM Summit is an invitation-only event for STEM stakeholders from across the commonwealth. Held on Virginia Commonwealth University’s campus in October, the summit will provide participants with the opportunity to share information about current STEM programming in their regions, identify STEM education and workforce needs, and envision the type of infrastructure needed to ensure the network’s success. 

Keynote speakers for the event will include Leland Melvin, former NFL football player, engineer, astronaut, and entrepreneur; and Jeff Weld, executive director for the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council and former senior advisor to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.  

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