Virginia doubles number of STEM academies

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education is getting a boost in Virginia. The governor approved a proposal from Lynchburg, Virginia to establishing a regional STEM hub and meeting his goal of doubling the number of STEM focused schools in the state. Virginia will now have 16 regional STEM hubs with the addition of Lynchburg.

The Lynchburg Regional Governor’s STEM Academy – to be located on the campus of Central Virginia Community College – will offer academic and technical training related to careers in engineering, technology and health science diagnostic services. The academy is scheduled to open in fall 2013 with a projected enrollment of approximately 100 juniors and seniors from Amherst County, Appomattox County, Bedford County, Campbell County and Lynchburg.

The Virginia Department of Education provides $5,000 start-up grants to Board of Education-approved academies. The National Science Foundation has also awarded the school of math, science and technology at Virginia Union University in Richmond a $1.7 million grant to increase recruitment, retention and graduation rates in STEM programs.

Other states including Utah and Iowa have launched similar STEM initiatives supporting the growth of regional education hubs. STEM education is currently lagging in the US despite its focus on critical knowledge areas needed to secure well paying jobs once out of school. “The commonwealth’s future economic competitiveness will depend in large measure on our ability to increase the number of Virginians with high-demand degrees in the STEM disciplines,” Governor McDonnell said. “Governor’s STEM Academies prepare young people for career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics that reflect future regional workforce needs.”