SSTI Digest

Geography: Kansas

SSTI Job Corner

Complete descriptions of these opportunities and others are available at

Governors Challenge Youth to Solve Real-world Industry Problem

Armed with professional advice from mentors in scientific fields and free access to sophisticated design and engineering software, teachers and students from Hawaii, Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Vermont and Virginia will participate in a national competition to solve a real-world engineering challenge defined by the aviation industry.
The idea behind the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Real World Design Challenge is to create a pipeline of highly qualified workers by preparing high school students for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields based on issues facing high-tech and defense industries.
Ralph Coppola, director of Worldwide Education for Parametric Technology Corporation, said many aerospace and defense companies that work as contractors to national security agencies are concerned the U.S. is not producing enough qualified workers who must be able to work on both the defense and commercial side. A survey conducted with these companies in the Northeast found 54 percent of the workforce is 45 years or older and one-third are eligible for retirement today. At the same time, engineering degrees make up only 5 percent of the total baccalaureate population in the U.S., Coppola said.
U.S. Continues to Trail Behind in STEM Graduates
A coalition of 16 leading business organizations echoed this concern with the release of a report last month assessing three years’ progress in working toward a goal of doubling the number of students earning bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields by 2015. The report by Tapping America’s Potential indicates growing support for the group’s agenda to advance U.S. competitiveness in STEM, but shows little progress toward the goal. In fact, the number of degrees in STEM fields awarded to undergraduate students has only grown by 24,000 since 2005 – a small increase that is not on track to reach the goal of 400,000 over the next seven years, the report finds.
The Real World Design Challenge hopes to reverse this trend by providing high school students with the background and framework for competing more effectively in the global economy. In designing the program, aerospace and defense companies voiced a need for employees having seven to
10 years of experience and the necessary education and skills. Recognizing that this requirement would add another decade to the pipeline, program administrators suggested integrating the real-world experience at the K-12 and undergraduate level. 
Engaging Youth in Real-world Situations
Ten states with significant aerospace industry presence were invited to participate in the challenge during the pilot year. So far, six states have confirmed their participation, beginning with an announcement last month from Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas. Next year, the challenge will be open to all U.S. states and territories. Once a school has signed on, the teachers are trained to use software and other tools to apply in teaching design and global engineering. Teachers will then lead teams of 3-7 students who will work on the same design challenge defined by Cessna engineers – an issue currently being addressed in the aviation industry.
Each participating teacher will receive nearly $1 million in engineering software to be used in the challenge. Teachers and students are given access to DOE energy laboratories and may consult with industry experts from the Federal Aviation Administration. Teams will submit their solutions to a review board consisting of experts in government, K-12 education, higher education and industry. The governors of each participating state will announce a winning team within their state in early spring who will then go on to compete in a national challenge in Washington
, D.C., which consists of a written submission and oral presentation on a newly defined challenge.
A major goal of the challenge is to teach students to become better innovators, Coppola said. The student teams are built around real industry roles, including a project manager, scientist, engineer, and community relations and marketing specialist. The national presentation will be much like submitting and defending a proposal for a contract or a thesis in which students are challenged and must defend their position, Coppola said.
More information on the Real World Design Challenge, a partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy, the Federal Aviation Administration, Parametric Technology Corporation, Hewlett-Packard Corporation and Flometrics Inc., is available at:

Energy RoundUp : States, Governors and Feds Turn Attention to Need for Clean Energy

National Governors Association
Twelve states recently received grants of $50,000 from the National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices to support clean energy initiatives and to overcome obstacles preventing the adoption of clean energy technologies in their region. The awards were made through NGA’s Clean Energy State Grant Program, a part of the association’s Securing a Clean Energy Future Initiative. Several companies and foundations, including American Electric Power, Dominion Resources, The Ford Motor Company and The Rockefeller Fund, have provided financial support for the grants, which are intended to fund state projects that support research, analysis, training or outreach to advance clean energy implementation.
Highlights from the list of awardees include:

Summer Camps Aren’t Just for Kids; Programs Engage Science Teachers in Research

Summer camps focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields are typically designed to spark youth interest and introduce students to career options in these critical areas. However, a vital component of these programs is exposure to scientific challenges that many classroom settings cannot provide. Recognizing this exposure as beneficial to both teachers and students, several programs are targeting educators with the goal of enhancing instructional methods in the classroom in order to increase student achievement in the STEM fields. The following are examples of professional development programs for science teachers from across the country offered over the summer months.
Middle school science teachers in Kansas are moving out of the classrooms and into University of Kansas (KU) laboratories this summer to participate in university-level research with the goal of enhancing their content backgrounds and ability to apply research-based instruction. The Middle School Science Academy Research Experiences program is a three-year, multi-phase initiative funded by the Kansas Board of Regents that targets two school districts with students considered to be high-risk.
Because so few middle school teachers have had actual experience with university-level research, the initiative engages the teachers in hands-on practice with KU science and engineering faculty.
The first phase of the program wrapped up last month with participation from 20 teachers. During the four-week program, the research groups worked on projects involving high-end biotechnology and engineering concepts, including a field reserve study on endangered milkweed.
Next year, the same teachers will return for instruction on translation of research and how to teach fundamental science to middle school students. Teachers will again meet with faculty mentors to discuss project-based learning models to engage students in science. The final year focuses on implementing the model with students. Teachers will practice the new concepts with a group of volunteer students and will then be able to evaluate and modify the content for use in their own classroom.
Program administrators estimate that as a result of the initiative, approximately 3,000 middle school students will receive enhanced science instruction. For their part, the teachers are granted nine credit hours of university-level science. A press release detailing the program is available at:
A collaborative partnership between three high-need school districts in northwest Ohio and Bowling Green State University, the Northwest Ohio Teachers Enhancing Achievement in Mathematics and Science is a summer institute program that provides enhanced science instruction and introduces teachers to community resources in order to make them leaders in science education.
Phase I of the program focuses on instruction, providing more than 100 hours of professional development training from university educators and scientists to approximately 100 teachers of grades 3-6. Participants are guided on how to teach specific areas of science and how to adopt teaching practices in their classrooms.
The second phase of the program exposes teachers to community resources, such as Fossil Park in northwest Ohio and the Toledo Zoo, and teaches educators how to best use these resources to enrich the content of their lesson plans. During the third phase, teachers return for a four-day follow-up and are guided through the execution of their instructional goals. 
Participating teachers receive stipends and are able to use science instructional kits in their classrooms for the following school year. Research findings from this program indicate statistically significant differences in fourth and sixth grade Ohio science proficiency scores for teachers who completed this program, according to the Ohio Department of Education.

People & TBED Organizations

The Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation (KTEC) has announced the launch of a statewide trade association to provide support to Kansas' software and information technology industry. The nonprofit has been registered with the state as the Software and Information Technology Association of Kansas (SITAKS) and is designed to support Kansas software, information technology and telecommunications companies.

Incubator RoundUp: Growing and Sustaining High Technology Companies

Offering customized workspace such as wet laboratories and specialized research equipment is one of the many benefits provided by technology-focused incubators. Access to university research, business mentoring and administrative support services often accompany the reduced rent facilities with the goal of growing technology companies into successful, self-sustaining enterprises. Following are select announcements of recently launched incubators and partnerships from across the nation. 
GateWay Community College recently received a recommendation from the Phoenix Parks, Education, Bioscience and Sustainability subcommittee of the Phoenix City Council to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with the college to build a bioscience incubator laboratory with wet lab space, the Arizona Republic reports. The wet lab would be a minimum of 5,000 sq. ft. and located near the Phoenix Biomedical Campus.
Colorado’s first aerospace business incubator will provide services, less the office space, for companies involved in space technology and resource development. The 8th Continent Project at the Colorado School of Mines announced a $150,000 grant from the Colorado Economic Development Commission will be used to serve 14-15 start-up companies per year. Funding from the commission is being matched two-and-a-half dollars for every one dollar through cash and in-kind contributions from 8th Continent’s founding partners.
Enterprise Florida, a public-private partnership serving as the state’s primary organization devoted to statewide economic development, announced last month the new Florida Institute for Commercialization of Public Research will be based at the Florida Atlantic University Research & Development Park. Created by the legislature last year, the institute is a “one-stop shop” to facilitate new venture creation and showcase technology and product development growing out of research from Florida’s public universities.
The Tavistock Group announced plans to build a $50 million, 100,000-square-foot wet lab and biotech incubator facility in Lake Nona, situated near the University of Central Florida College of Medicine and the Burnham Institute for Medical Research, reports the Orlando Business Journal. Construction is expected to begin in 2009.
An initial $1.15 million grant from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation will provide start-up costs related to The Hammond INnovation Center, an 8,200-square-foot incubator designed to support high tech start-up companies. Purdue University-Calumet will manage the facility. 
Purdue Research Park broke ground last month on its third building, a 105,000-square-foot technology incubator dubbed Purdue Technology Center II. The Purdue Research Foundation hopes to attract businesses in the fields of life sciences, information technology, and advanced manufacturing and logistics. A $3 million donation from a Purdue University alumnus is helping to finance the $14.5 million project, according to the Journal and Courier.
The University of Kansas Medical Center will build a regional wet lab incubator for life sciences start-up companies with help from a $3 million federal grant, according to the Kansas City Business Journal. The planned 40,000-square-foot incubator will house companies started by faculty researchers from universities in the region and entrepreneurs who license locally generated research, the article states. The Kansas Bioscience Authority and Kansas University Medical Center announced they will finance the remaining cost, which is expected to be another $3.25 million.
To accelerate Baltimore’s bioscience industry, an agreement was signed earlier this year by the developer of Baltimore BioPark and Baltimore City’s technology incubator, the Emerging Technology Center (ETC), to coordinate incubation and leasing activities for early-state bioscience companies. The new BioInnovation Center provides flexible, modular lab suites with wet lab and office space. Under the agreement, ETC will provide business mentoring and incubation assistance to early-stage life science and bioscience companies. In return, Bio Park will promote ETC services to tenants and prospects and offer laboratory space to tenant companies, according to a press release.
The new Business Engagement Center at the University of Michigan (UM) opened earlier this month. The center shares 17,000 sq. ft. with the recently relocated UM Office of Technology Transfer. The two offices will work together to strengthen UM ties to business and community partners.
Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt announced a North Kansas City nonprofit organization was approved for $150,000 in tax credits through the state’s Small Business Incubator Program. The facility will provide incubator services for businesses in technology and life sciences. In collaboration with the University of Central Missouri Innovation Center and the Small Business Technology Development Center, the new Avvio Center will provide training, workshops and seminars to tenants.
Farleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey launched a business incubator last month focusing solely on sustainable start-up and early-stage companies in alternative energy, the environment, waste reduction, urban agriculture, transportation, and business information.
A new round of federal funding earlier this year prompted construction of a new technology incubator at SUNY Fredonia State College. Previously operating within a temporary facility, the $150,000 earmark enables construction of the new 21,000-square-foot incubator in Dunkirk, reports Buffalo Business First. An extension of the university’s main campus in Fredonia, the incubator will house approximately 30 start-up companies within varied technology sectors. Completion is slated for next year.
A new 300-acre corporate campus being developed by Triangle North in partnership with Vance-Granville Community College will include a biotech incubator for start-ups in the biotechnology industry. 
Clemson University received final approval from the State Budget and Control Board on its request of $5 million to begin construction on a new Innovation Center at the Clemson University Advanced Materials Center. The 28,000-square-foot facility will house Clemson University spin-off companies, entrepreneurial start-ups and larger companies relocating to South Carolina that focus on advanced materials, nanotechnology and biomaterials.
Marshall University and the Huntington Area Development Corporation entered into an agreement last month to build a new biotech incubator, reports The State Journal.  Located near the university’s Forensic Science Center, the incubator will serve biotechnology spin-off companies that originated at Marshall University.
University Research Park in Madison, Wis., announced in March plans to build a new, 65,000-square-foot accelerator building to house life sciences companies that have moved beyond early-stage development. The building will be located south of the MGE Innovation Center, a larger incubator facility designed for early-stage companies.

Enacted Kansas Budget Invests in Workforce, Innovation Economy

Several key proposals championed by Gov. Kathleen Seblius to prepare the state for an innovation-based economy were adopted by the legislature in the approved fiscal year 2009 budget signed into law by the governor earlier this month.
In February, Gov. Sebelius signed an executive order forming the Kansas Innovation Consortium announced during her State of the State Address (see the Jan. 23, 2008 issue of the Digest). The initiative brings together key industry clusters within the state, including animal, plant and life sciences, health, manufacturing, agriculture, logistics and energy, and is charged with attracting new investments in R&D and ensuring the state has a prepared workforce. Lawmakers did not, however, include the governor’s recommendation of $150,000 in the FY09 budget for related start-up costs.
The FY09 budget allocates $5 million each for aviation training and aviation research at Wichita State University (WSU). The governor originally recommended $4 million to WSU for a National Institute for Aviation Research Grant and $2.5 million for the institute.
In support of Kansas’ bid for the National Bio- and Agro-defense Facility, the legislature passed a bill authorizing infrastructure improvements needed to secure the project. Kansas is one of six finalists in the nation vying for the facility. HB 2001 authorizes the issuance of revenue bonds to support capital improvements for the proposed site, which is located at Kansas State University near the Bioscience Research Institute.
Not all of the governor’s proposals survived the legislative session. Among those not passing was a recommendation of $2 million from the Expanded Lottery Act Revenues Fund for a new Bioenergy Research Program through the Department of Commerce.
Lawmakers also did not approve the governor’s recommendation of $1 million for a new teaching scholarship program in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields – the STEM Teachers Service Program. However, the enacted budget includes $295,000 ($45,000 more than the governor’s recommendation) for the Kansas Academy for Mathematics and Science, a two-year residential program established by the legislature in 2006.
The FY 2009 enacted budget (Mega Budget Bill) is available at:

People & TBED Organizations

Lori Broyles was appointed coordinator of the Women's Business Center in Oklahoma City.


John Austin is the newly appointed executive director of the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan.

People & TBED Organizations

Kansas University has appointed Steve Warren as its first full-time vice provost for research and graduate studies.

Great Plains at Center of Mounting Brain Drain

The agricultural states that lie east of the Rocky Mountains are at the center of an escalating decline in population, far exceeding that of other regions of the country. Of particular concern is the effect of population loss among young, educated workers on the states’ economies, resulting in a brain drain that could leave the region lagging the rest of the nation for many years to come.


A number of areas cry “brain drain” whenever they see statistics for where graduates go after finishing college. Often, those arguments are made without looking at the more useful measure of net migration, the result of considering in-migration as well as out-migration.


One look at the map of the U.S. Census Bureau Population Estimates for 2006, published in a recent issue of The Economist, graphically illustrates where brain drain is really occurring. And, brain drain is mainly on the plains. The extent of population loss stretching from eastern Montana to west Texas leads the country. The Economist article states that certain areas of the Great Plains are more sparsely populated now than they were in the late 19th century when the government declared them to be deserted. A shrinking agricultural base and industrial farming, technological advances and the region’s failure to attract new businesses are most likely causes for the rapid net out-migration, according to The Economist.


States across the Midwest and Northeast also experiencing significant population loss – especially among younger residents – have employed several measures over the years aimed at reversing brain drain and enticing graduates in emerging fields, such as life sciences. Past initiatives or proposals have included tuition loan forgiveness plans, financial incentives, improving the quality of life, and eliminating the state income tax for younger residents. 


In the Midwest, for example, facing an estimated 150,000 skilled worker shortage by 2012, Iowa lawmakers passed the Generation Iowa bill last year. The bill established a 15-member commission to advise and assist in retention and attraction efforts across the state.


The Generation Iowa Commission released its findings last month in Road Map to Recruit and Retain Young People to Iowa. The group's report outlines several recommendations across five categories, including reducing student loan debt, expanding career pathways, and aggressively marketing the state. Gov. Chet Culver also announced 60 new Iowa Student Internship Awards last month in the fields of bioscience, advanced manufacturing and information technology, with the goal of transitioning college student interns to full-time employees.


Many of the states located in the Plains, anticipating long-term consequences if their trends of declining demographics continue, are actively working to lure back graduates that have left the state, while also recruiting new residents by promoting the region’s emerging technology base and low cost of living. The following examples highlight recent efforts from government agencies and nonprofit organizations to stem brain drain across the Plains.


The Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation (KTEC) launched an initiative last month focusing on professionals and investors in bioscience and information technology with ties to the state. The Come Home to Kansas initiative also targets non-residents and entrepreneurs looking for opportunities in technical fields. With a strong foundation of bioscience and technology companies, KTEC hopes to match professionals with Kansas bioscience and information technology employers who are struggling with recruitment through a job portal and website that promotes the state’s assets. The website features resources to connect entrepreneurs to funds and start-up assistance alongside information on the housing market and cost of living data.


An established program in Montana continues to build a network of support for entrepreneurs in high-technology fields. TechRanch was formed in 2000 with the goal of creating more high-paying jobs to retain Montana graduates. The organization consists of three programs -- the Bozeman Technology Accelerator, the TechRanch Entrepreneur Network, and the Bootstrap Montana Loan Program. Collectively, these programs have assisted in the formation of more than 60 companies across the state, many of which have gone on to secure government grants and license technologies, according to TechRanch.



Hoping to establish an entrepreneurial culture in southeast Nebraska, the Inventors, Investors and Entrepreneurship Club continues to hold monthly networking sessions at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Kimmel Education and Research Center. The sessions serve to recruit younger people to the rural areas of the state to start new businesses. The initiative is part of a larger, regional effort being organized by River Country Economic Development Corporation that focuses on sharing the resources of the business community and services that are available to help start-up companies.


North Dakota

In 2006, University of North Dakota (UND) students established what it calls the first venture capital fund to be completely managed and operated by students (completing all due diligence, making the final investment decision, and negotiating the deal's term structure). Dakota Venture Group, which was seeded by a private donation, operates independently from the university, and five students that serve as managing directors handle all aspects of the investing process. The fund is viewed as a learning opportunity in equity investing for students that also provides a foundation for establishing young companies started by UND students and alumni within the region.



Lawmakers are looking to the aerospace industry to grow new, high-tech jobs and recruit younger workers. Two bills introduced during the 2008 legislative session would provide tax incentives to graduates who work in aerospace or engineering for at least five years and support the aerospace industry through the creation of the Oklahoma Aerospace Institute focusing on education, training, research and economic development (see the Feb. 6, 2008 issue of the Digest).


Oklahoma is expected to experience a shortage of about 200 aerospace engineers and 400 electrical engineers by 2014, according to an article in The Oklahoman. At the same time, enrollment for aerospace engineering programs has increased. Between 2001 and 2005, enrollment in bachelor degree programs grew by 55 percent and by nearly 130 percent in master’s programs, the article states.


South Dakota

A joint partnership launched in 2006 between the Department of Labor, the Department of Tourism and State Development, and the Governor’s Office, Dakota Roots aims to grow the state’s workforce by linking former South Dakota residents with local business opportunities. After one year, the initiative has built a labor pool of approximately 1,400 individuals, servicing 241 participants from 40 states. The idea is there are many individuals and companies looking to return to the state, but they need assurance that opportunities for business creation and high-paying jobs are available. The program enables individuals to register their skills and interests to be matched with the needs of local companies and provides assistance to businesses looking to relocate to the state.

Save the Date!: KTEC to Host SSTI's 2009 Conference

It only seems natural that SSTI celebrate the premiere professional development event for the nation's tech-based economic development community in 2009 in a state that, for 20 years, has pioneered innovative approaches to transform regional economies -­ Kansas. SSTI's 13th annual conference and pre-conference workshops will be held at the Sheraton Overland Park Hotel on Oct. 20-22, 2009.

Overland Park provides the perfect backdrop for SSTI's 13th annual conference for many reasons. Kansas has a vibrant technology and bioscience community that boasts innovative programs, such as KTEC, KTEC PIPELEINE, Kansas Bioscience Authority, and Heartland BioVentures. KTEC is in the midst of celebrating 20 years as the state’s leading technology economic development organization and has positive relationships with both the state’s universities and private sector. KTEC brings $13 million in technology entrepreneurship to the region, in addition to the $40 million in funding from the Kansas Bioscience Authority.

"We are thrilled that SSTI selected Overland Park as the host site for the 2009 conference," said Tracy Taylor, president and CEO of KTEC. "We look forward to showcasing Kansas and the innovative approaches to tech-based economic development that KTEC has led and implemented."

Plan to join us in Overland Park Oct. 20-22, 2009, at SSTI's 13th Annual Conference to experience it for yourself. In addition, we hope to see you at SSTI's 2008 annual conference in Cleveland this Oct. 14-16. More information is available at: