Colleague Article: How Michigan can remain a leader in STEM
November 12, 2019
Friday, November 8th was National STEM Day. In Michigan, a state whose rich history of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) extends well into the previous centuries, we boast a powerful new tool called the MiSTEM Network to engage stakeholders of all ages in STEM education and workforce development. This push will work to ensure that Michigan, home to the original assembly line and now over 315,000 STEM jobs, remains a leader in the STEM future.
The MiSTEM Network is situated as an intersection between the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity and the Michigan Department of Education. Authorized through Section 99s of the State School Aid Act, the MiSTEM Network is helping to transform STEM in the state. The goal of the Network is to foster a statewide ecosystem which will improve education and workforce outcomes in STEM across the state. The Network envisions STEM as more than just Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics but instead a lens through which to view learning. This lens is exciting and interdisciplinary, allowing students to utilize STEM skills as they work within the humanities, arts, and other subjects.
The state is divided up into 16 Network Regions, each with a Regional Director and some with Regional Staff. By working with regional stakeholders, the MiSTEM Network seeks to support and improve STEM education K-12 and ensure that students are career and college ready. The work is guided by four pillars:
- Create a STEM culture
- Empower STEM educators
- Integrate business and education, and
- Ensure high-quality STEM experiences (for learners)
The Regional Directors serve as resource connectors for districts, schools, teachers, students, and community members (including businesses) in order to support the statewide STEM ecosystem. The Network works in collaboration with the MiSTEM Advisory Council, a governor’s appointment council, in order to award $3.05 million in statewide grants to support STEM education.
Districts, schools, teachers, and others interested in finding ways that they can utilize the MiSTEM Network in support of their STEM goals should contact their Regional Director. The Director’s job is connect and convene stakeholders in all areas to move the state forward in mind of our statewide STEM strategy.
Together, we can ensure that Michigan’s future is bright in STEM, supported with skills that ensure 21st century jobs will be filled by highly-qualified workers.
Kristofer Pachla, Ph.D., is the director of the GVSU Regional Math and Science Center and the regional director for the MiSTEM Network's Greater West Michigan region.