By Camille Stegman, Executive Director, Nevada STEM Coalition
As the 21 st century opened for Nevada, we found ourselves with a new and different economy. This new economy will be requiring Nevada’s young students to develop skills necessary for new industries, such as renewable power, computer automation, drones, and yet to be discovered aptitudes. In addition to Nevada’s student populations, there is a need for educator retraining, so that teachers can provide opportunities for students to develop these new skills. The Nevada STEM Coalition, working with informal education, STEAM groups, community partners, and the STEM Advisory Council, is advocating of the development of these STEM skills in Nevada’s students and in the educators that mentor them.
Our vision is that ALL Nevada students have the necessary skills in STEM to be productive in their personal, work, and civic lives. Our mission is to promote leadership and collaboration among business, community, education, and government stakeholders to increase the numbers of capable Nevada high school graduates who pursue STEM related jobs, degrees, and careers.
Founded in 2006, the Nevada STEM Coalition is a nonprofit organization who’s founding member Beth Wells, was instrumental in bringing together stakeholders from across the state in the STEM Summit held in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2012. The participants represented Nevada education, community, business, and government, as well as out-of- state business and education institutions. Each group had their own perspectives about the importance of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) proficiency among Nevada’s students and teachers. The outcomes of the summit provided a foundation for much of the work the Coalition has accomplished over the past several years.
One of these significant accomplishments is finding funding for the STEM Ambassador Program, which currently is in a pilot phase in Las Vegas. This program is designed to connect community partners with schools in varying levels of involvement and would not have been possible without the generous donation from NV Energy and Union Pacific. A STEM Ambassador is a STEM career individual that wants to share their knowledge and expertise with students. Through interactions with the STEM Ambassador, students may develop the desire to pursue a STEM-related career. Currently, the STEM Ambassador Program has over 70 ambassadors and that have interacted with over 300 students across Nevada. The STEM Ambassador Program has recently made connections to other communities in our state, including Reno, Elko, and their outlying communities.
As the Nevada STEM Coalition looks to the future it will continue to focus its mission and vision on our students and the educators who dedicate their careers to preparing them for Nevada’s bright economic future.