Legislative Preview: Groups in FL, WI Outline Strategies for High-Growth Economies

Ahead of the 2013 legislative sessions, groups in Florida and Wisconsin unveiled reports on revamping higher education to better fulfill workforce needs and strengthening sectors most likely to produce jobs. In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott's Blue Ribbon Task Force on Higher Education urged differentiated tuition making it more affordable for students to pursue in-demand careers. Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Technology Council identified four strategies to help strengthen the state's technology-based economy — including passage of an early stage capital bill similar to one that stalled in the legislature last year. Both groups hope their recommendations will gain traction in the upcoming sessions.

Voters Reject Tax Increases, Back Bonds for Higher Ed

While election night's main focus was on the presidential race, the importance of ballot measures for states and metros is growing as public services and budgets are being severely trimmed. A recent article in The New Republic reports on a new trend where states are embracing ballot measures as a potential source of dedicated funds for targeted investments in regional economic growth and development.

U.S. Remains Top Destination for Doctoral Students Post-Graduation

As the rate of foreign students earning doctorates from American universities increases — from 17 percent of the total science, engineering, and health doctoral degrees in the 1960s to nearly 40 percent in 2010 — the question is where do these foreign nationals seek work? Do they remain in the United States post-graduation or do they return to their country of origin or do they go elsewhere?

Universities, Foundations Working on Better Technologies, Methods for STEM Education

As evidenced in the recent presidential debates and on the campaign trails, STEM teaching and learning is a national priority for maintaining global competiveness. Several universities and foundations have taken the lead, working with partners to design innovative learning tools and create research-based, professional development support for new math and science teachers. Recent examples of these initiatives include a partnership between Arizona State University and Battelle to develop new technologies to educate students, a $2 million grant to the University of Florida to establish better teaching methods, and an education initiative from the Verizon Foundation to accelerate the use of mobile technology in the classroom.

State Strategic Plans Focus on Supporting S&T in Key Sectors

In an era of tightening fiscal constraints, states have to make tough decisions, establish clear economic development funding priorities and transform their economic development models to take advantage of immediate opportunities and position their state for long-term economic growth. Mississippi, Oklahoma and Washington have released state-specific strategic plans that make those tough decisions by focusing their resources on key science & technology (S&T) areas to address the economic impacts of the Great Recession and position the state for future prosperity. Each strategic plan also calls for state government to engage the private sector to build partnerships that will help reduce costs and increase impacts.

Department of Labor Commits $175M for Community College Manufacturing Education Programs

The Department of Labor announced over $175 million in new funding for community colleges to grow and enhance their manufacturing education and training programs through partnerships with local employers. Part of the $500 million Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) initiative, the grants are intended to promote skills development and employment opportunities in advanced manufacturing. Through the TAACCCT initiative, each state plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico will receive at least $2.5 million in dedicated funding for community college career training programs in fields such as advanced manufacturing, transportation, health care and other science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers. Read the press release...

Illinois Launches $10.3M STEM Partnership Initiative

llinois Gov. Pat Quinn has announced the details of a $10.3 million planned partnership to develop "STEM Learning Exchanges" across the state. Eight organizations will be awarded contracts to work with regional, educational and business networks to aggregate curricular resources, assessment tools, professional development systems, work-based learning opportunities and problem-based learning challenges. Funding for the initiative will be drawn from $2.3 million in federal Race to the Top funds, with another $8 million leveraged from private partnerships. Learn more...

Utah Governor Announces New Statewide STEM Education, Workforce Partnership

Utah Governor Gary Herbert announced a new public-private partnership that will establish the Salt Lake City region as a top ten center for technology jobs and businesses. To achieve this goal, the state plans to undertake a statewide planning process to identify and build on current successes and create greater collaboration in Science Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education. The statewide STEM education and workforce partnership is a collaborative project of the Governor's Office of Economic Development, the Utah System of Higher Education, the Utah State Office of Education and Prosperity 2020 — a business-led movement to advance educational investment and innovation within the state. The state hopes that by 2020:

Engineers Mostly Upbeat on Future of Profession, but Want More Training

The start of a new school year is already underway leading to the often dreaded task of choosing a major. For today's students, balancing a rewarding career with one that offers in-demand employment opportunities has become even more of a struggle. Results from a new survey suggest the engineering field might just fit the bill, however. A survey of more than 1,200 mechanical engineers offers insight into a profession where most hold an optimistic view of their work and their ability to impact lives and meet global challenges. To do so, engineers expect to work more in interdisciplinary teams, enhance their skills, and learn to better communicate outside their field.

President Wants $1B to Train 10,000 STEM 'Master Teachers'

A plan introduced last week by the president places the future of the nation's standing in math and science in the hands of highly-specialized teachers who would serve as national ambassadors and mentor fellow educators across the country. In exchange, STEM Master Teachers would receive an extra $20,000 per year on top of their annual salary. Funding for the initiative is part of the FY13 budget plan, which requires congressional approval. School districts can compete for $100 million available now, however, through an existing fund aimed at achieving similar goals of identifying and developing quality STEM teachers.


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