Audience at National Academies conference hears PCEC successes

The community ties that helped establish GVSU's Padnos College of Engineering and Computing were highlighted October 19 in Washington, D.C., during a National Academies roundtable discussion focused on undergraduate STEM education.

Paul Plotkowski, founding dean of PCEC, was invited to participate in a panel discussion on building ecosystems for STEM partnerships. It's a topic Plotkowski knows well. PCEC has more than 300 industry partners, most in West Michigan, supporting co-op or internship experiences, or sponsoring projects.

three people at table, projection screen in back of room shows GVSU slide of PCEC successes, with gears
At center is Paul Plotkowski, founding dean of PCEC, who joined a National Academies discussion about building ecosystems for STEM partnerships during a conference in Washington, D.C.

"Grand Valley and our college invest heavily in co-op education," Plotkowski said. "And we're not just sending students to industry partners to work. This is closely coupled with an academic element, as there are weekly touchpoints. It's like any relationship; if you don't invest time and resources, it's not going to work out well."

Plotkowski also discussed the college's extensive outreach to K-12 students. Last year, PCEC faculty and staff hosted more than 13,000 students at summer camps, project days or FIRST Robotics events. "We have dedicated facilities and staff for pipeline events for K-12 students," he said. "It's an important component of our mission."

Paul Plotkowski leans against podium with National Academies, Sciences, Engineering, Medicine on front of podium on blue plague
At the conference, Paul Plotkowski discussed PCEC's connections within the community through industry partnerships and K-12 pipelines.

PCEC was established in 2004, in part, to meet the talent demands of West Michigan industry. Plotkowski said the college's applied research and development centers, such as the Applied Computing Institute and the Electromagnetic Compatibility Center, provide area businesses with incubator space, rapid prototyping and access to student and faculty expertise.

"We're contributing and building the STEM workforce in West Michigan. And we're very committed to maintaining and strengthening our connections in the community," he said.


Sign up and receive the latest Grand Valley headlines delivered to your email inbox each morning.