IU honors 'Mythbuster' for advancing science ed


Indiana University is honoring co-host Jamie Hyneman of the Discovery Channel program "Mythbusters" for his work in advancing science education.

IU's College of Arts and Sciences awarded Hyneman its 2012 Distinguished Alumni Award this week. Dean Larry Singell called his contributions to science education "ingenious."

Hyneman and co-host Adam Savage test urban legends, popular myths and online rumors on the program. The two special effects experts have tested pond-skipping sports cars and cellphone germ counts, among other items.

Hyneman was raised in Columbus and graduated from IU with a degree in Russian language and linguistics in 1981. He has worked on films including "Bram Stoker's Dracula" and "Robocop." He has also has worked with the military on vehicle safety designs and holds several patents.


Higher education commission approves new technical communication degree at IUPUI

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education approved the establishment of a Bachelor of Science in technical communication degree program at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis on Nov. 9.

The new degree, offered through the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI, is the state's first degree to offer an education in technical communication through a Bachelor of Science rather than a Bachelor of Arts degree program. Earning the degree prepares students to effectively communicate technical knowledge through curricular experiences that are integrated with the engineering and technology programs.

“The new degree builds upon an existing technical communication certificate program at IUPUI and will draw on existing courses from several academic programs on the campus in order to provide enriching interdisciplinary experiences for students,” said David Russomanno, dean of the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI. “The program responds to the needs of science, technology, engineering and mathematics employers by embedding the rigor of the project-based engineering and technology programs into the curriculum.”

The technical communication bachelor's degree is designed to prepare students for a wide variety of job positions in technical and scientific communication, including technical editor, documentation specialist, grant writer, information architect, media designer/developer, medical writer/editor, project coordinator, training developer, web designer and more. Technical communicators create necessary resources such as user manuals, online help, websites and other materials that make complex technology knowledge easily understood by a wide variety of audiences and users.

According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, opportunities for technical communicators or writers, with an average salary of $63,280 annually, are predicted to grow 17 percent between 2010 and 2020, showing a strong demand for the degree.

The new degree program will begin enrolling students in fall 2013. More information about the degree can be found on the School of Engineering and Technology website or by contacting Corinne Renguette at




West Lafayette High School ranks 19th in US for STEM education

West Lafayette High School senior Alyssa Cheng wasn’t surprised to hear about her school’s latest academic honor. Last week, U.S. News & World Report ranked the high school 19th in the country when it comes to STEM education — an acronym comprising the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math.

“It’s pretty awesome,” Cheng said. “I think our school is very competitive academically. We all push each other.”

The ranking was determined by looking at the top 500 public schools from the magazine’s 2012 Best High Schools ranking and evaluating them by student participation in Advanced Placement science and math tests.

It’s far from the first honor the school has received. Last May, the magazine named the school the No. 2 high school in the state and ranked it 269th overall in the United States.

Ask Principal Ron Shriner the key to the school’s success and he’ll point to a number of factors that make West Lafayette a perfect storm of academic success — from parents invested in their children’s education to a dedicated teaching staff that pushes students to excel.

But such honors wouldn’t come, Shriner said, without a student population that thrives on academics.

“You’ve got to have the kids,” Shriner said. “The kids are the ones who show up every day.”

One reason for the high ranking is the unusually large number of students who take Advanced Placement tests. It’s even common, Shriner said, for students who haven’t taken an AP course to take the related test.

The state of Indiana earlier this year recognized the high school for showing the second-highest percentage of students who passed at least one AP exam at some point in high school. In 2010, 55 percent of students met that goal, up from 40.3 percent in 2009.




Vincennes University, Toyota announce education-to-work program

PRINCETON, Ind. - Vincennes University and Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana, announced today an innovative partnership for an education-to-work program - the first of its kind in Indiana.

The Toyota Advanced Manufacturing Technician program combines cutting-edge curriculum, paid working experience, and instruction in highly sought-after business principles and best practices from a world-class manufacturer.

The program, which results in a two-year associate degree from Vincennes University, will accept 20 students for its inaugural class in the fall of 2013.

Designed to be the strongest manufacturing-supportive degree in Indiana, highlights of the Toyota Advanced Manufacturing Technician program include a virtual full-ride scholarship including room and board, a coordinated career pathway, and three days of school and two days of work at Toyota's manufacturing facility in Gibson County. Graduates will be able to compete with the best technical graduates in the world.

"I'm excited about this new partnership with VU and what it means for our future workforce," said TMMI President Norm Bafunno. "As technology increases, so does the need for skilled technicians at our facility. I’m confident the new AMT program will benefit not just Toyota, but the region with highly-skilled, work-ready graduates."

"As one of three higher education institutions to join in this partnership with Toyota in North America, Vincennes University is ready to open the door to enter a great career," said VU President Dick Helton. "By working together, Toyota and Vincennes University will recruit and prepare persons for careers with lots of openings - right now - and that have a promising future. Building on the strengths of both Toyota and VU in advanced manufacturing, this innovative partnership will provide real advantages for persons who seek a career in which their skills are needed, appreciated, and rewarded."

With leading-edge programs in Advanced CNC Manufacturing, Computer-Integrated Manufacturing and Robotics, and Precision Manufacturing, VU is a nationally recognized leader in industrial training programs for both traditional students and for re-training current employees, according to Art Haase, dean of VU’s College of Technology.

"Vincennes University's strength in advanced manufacturing training, in partnership with Toyota - one of the world’s leading advanced manufacturing companies - will make this program second to none in preparing students for great careers that are widely available locally, nationally, and internationally," Haase said. "In fact, the career with the highest number of unfilled positions nationally is skilled technicians. Students leaving this program will have the combination of high-quality training and real work experience that many leading employers are seeking. That is why this partnership is good for students, manufacturers, and our economic future."

Over two years, students can earn as much as $30,000 in salary which, with planning, can cover all of a student's education expenses. There are also potential grants and financial aid. Students have the opportunity to earn five $500 tuition assistance incentives during the program. VU's tuition is $155.40 per credit hour for Indiana residents, making a typical 15-credit-hour semester cost $2,331.

In addition to in-depth instruction in manufacturing, the program includes semester-long modules in safety culture, workplace organization, lean manufacturing, problem solving, and maintenance reliability. It emphasizes top work behaviors such as attendance, initiative, diligence, verbal and written communication, interpersonal skills, and professionalism.

A model for education that works, the program builds on partnerships with employers such as Toyota, VU, local K-12 schools, workforce services such as WorkOne, and education organizations such as Project Lead the Way, headquartered in Indiana.

"I congratulate Toyota on this effort to build skills capacity within its workforce," said Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers.

"There are no two better partners than Vincennes University and Toyota Indiana, and I am sure other Indiana companies will take note of this innovative model to combine formal training with work experience."

While not guaranteed a full-time job at Toyota following graduation, graduates could be hired by the company; continue their education in engineering, technology or business; or pursue employment opportunities in the open job market.

For more information or to apply to the program, go to




Indiana's national science, math teaching award finalists honored at lunch

Six Indiana educators are finalists for the 2012 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching and were recognized Monday at an annual luncheon at the Indiana Historical Society.

“Dedicated educators like those we honor today are making sure all students who enter their classrooms leave with the skills and knowledge essential for success in the future,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett said in a statement. “I applaud each of Indiana’s 2012 PAEMST finalists for their impressive contributions to the teaching profession and their remarkable work for Indiana’s students.”

PAEMST was established by the U.S. Congress in 1983 and is the nation’s highest honor for mathematics and science teachers. Each year, the award is given by White House officials to teachers from all 50 states. Two PAEMST recipients from each state, one each in science and math, will be selected by White House officials this spring, and each will receive a $10,000 award.

Finalists for Excellence in Science Teaching

» Teresa Gross: Gross has been teaching for more than 21 years and is currently a fifth grade teacher at Westwood Elementary School in Greenwood. She has received multiple grants from Greenwood Community Schools in addition to the Eli Lilly Science Outreach Grant. Gross has been honored with the IPL Golden Apple Award and was named a 2005 Indiana Teacher of the Year Semi-Finalist. She currently serves on her district’s leadership team, gifted and talented team, technology team, and science curriculum committee. She manages multiple school programs including Camp Invention and Club Invention, Student Council, and Science is Fun Day.

» Kristen Poindexter: Poindexter has been teaching for more than 10 years and is a full day kindergarten teacher at Spring Mill Elementary School in the Metropolitan School District of Washington Township in Indianapolis. Poindexter serves as a trainer for the Indiana Science Initiative, an International Baccalaureate Team Leader, and a district science coach. She has presented at Hoosier Association of Science Teachers and National Science Teachers Association conferences as well as other national conferences. She has been honored with the IPL Golden Apple Award, 2008 Spring Mill Elementary Teacher of the Year, Celebrate Science Indiana Award, and the Bill and Martha Lee Armstrong Educator Award.




Ivy Tech's nano hub

Ivy Tech Community College in South Bend next year will add an intensive, 18-credit summer nanotechnology study program that is expected to draw students from across Indiana and possibly from other states.


The new program will be funded with a $165,000 National Science Foundation grant awarded to the South Bend campus. The grant will allow the campus here to develop a Nanotechnology Application and Career Knowledge (NACK) Network teaching site hub here, one of just seven such hubs in the nation.


The teaching site here is being developed in partnership with Penn State University.


Nanotechnology involves research and technological development at a scale so tiny it's measured in nanometers -- billionths of a meter. It creates and uses structures that have novel properties because of their size, and it offers the ability to manipulate individual atoms and molecules.


Jobs prospects are expected to be good in the growing field of nanotechnology.


The initial 10-week summer program will have room for 20 students. The program will be intense: six courses, requiring class work eight hours a day, five days a week.


Ivy Tech in South Bend last year became the first -- and so far the only -- college in Indiana to offer an associate's degree program in nanotechnology.


Abdollah Aghdasi, chair of Ivy Tech's nanotechnology program, expects the summer program to draw students from Ivy Tech's other campuses around the state and also from some four-year colleges and universities.


"You don't need to be an Ivy Tech student. We can take students from Notre Dame, IUSB, Western Michigan University -- anyone who wants to come and get the exposure to nanotechnology," he said.


Although the nanotechnology degree currently is offered only in South Bend, students at other Ivy Tech campuses could take their general education requirements at their home campus, attend the intensive summer of nanotechnology courses in South Bend, then arrange to complete requirements (including an internship) for the nanotechnology degree back at their home campus, Aghdasi said.


Students who stop short of the eight required nanotechnology courses for the degree may be able to earn a certificate, but that hasn't yet been approved by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.


Ivy Tech administrators are working with local residential colleges to find housing options for students who choose to come to South Bend for a summer to participate in the program.


The NSF grant will allow Ivy Tech to hire a full-time faculty member for the summer program.


The other NACK Network teaching hubs are in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, New York, Arizona, Washington state and Puerto Rico. The original teaching hub is based at Penn State, and Ivy Tech is working with faculty there in developing the site here.


Sixteen students started in Ivy Tech's first nanotechnology degree cohort in fall 2011, with nine of them still in the program. The first students are expected to complete their degrees next August. Ten new nanotechnology students started in the degree program this fall.


A graduate with an associate's degree in nanotechnology is qualified to work as a technician, helping with research and maintaining expensive high-tech equipment in nanotechnology clean rooms and other highly specialized laboratory environments.


The students learn skills on state-of-the-art laboratory equipment at Ivy Tech and also spend some time in the University of Notre Dame's clean room.


The new program will allow students to devote a full summer immersed in nanotechnology studies, said David Brinkruff, dean of Ivy Tech's Schools of Technology and Applied Science/Engineering. Some students may choose to pursue the full two-year nanotechnology associate's degree program, and others may just attend for a summer study immersion and major in another field, he said.


There may not be immediate demand for nanotechnology technicians in this region, but there will be as the field continues to grow, Brinkruff said. "We're ahead of the demand," he said.


"It will allow people to be able to gain skills in an area that is going to become very important to the local economy," he said.


Locally, Notre Dame increasingly is involved in nanotechnology research. And across the country and around the world, private companies -- from pharmaceutical manufacturers to chemical companies to defense contractors -- also are turning to nanotechnology to create new products.


Earning the Ivy Tech degree requires general education courses, eight nanotechnology courses, and an internship or research fellowship in an area laboratory. Some students will intern in labs at Notre Dame or at Innovation Park, Aghdasi said.


A good candidate for the program is someone with at least a high school diploma who is strong in sciences and math. For graduates who want to pursue further education, the Ivy Tech nanotechnology associate degree will transfer into Purdue North Central in Westville, where a student can earn a bachelor's degree in engineering technology.




ETHS alumnus pledges $500,000 to STEM labs

An alumnus of Evanston Township High School has pledged a $500,000 gift in support of the school’s science program.

The donor, Leonard Schaeffer, specified one condition: that the ETHS Educational Foundation raise an additional $100,000.

The combined $600,000 will go toward the construction of three Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics labs at the school in 2014, said Fran Caan, executive director of the ETHS Educational Foundation.

“The combination of the people I met and the education I received at ETHS opened up a world that I would not have entered if I hadn’t gone to school there,” Schaeffer said. “I wanted to do what I can to make sure that other young people in the area have a similarly good experience.”

Schaeffer is the founding chairman and former CEO of the health care company WellPoint. He currently advises the private equity firm TPG Capital and is a professor at the University of Southern California.

Although Schaeffer has donated to the school in the past, this particular gift will mark Schaeffer’s 50th anniversary of graduating from ETHS in 1963. Three proposals were presented to Schaeffer, including the refurbishment of a campus planetarium, the renovation of the school’s orchestra pit and the STEM labs.

Schaeffer said he decided to fund the STEM labs because they would have the largest impact on the greatest number of students.

Terri Sowa-Imbo, ETHS science department chair, is part of the committee that will plan the STEM labs.

“The idea behind getting new labs is to really bring the students into 21st century learning,” she said.

The STEM labs will be equipped with modern technological tools so students can experience science in new and creative ways, such as using Skype to talk to a variety of industry professionals, Sowa-Imbo said.

Kristen Perkins, the recently appointed Northwestern/ETHS partnership coordinator, said a STEM approach to education has practical applications.

“What STEM education does is look at real-world problems in terms of problem solving through collaboration and utilizing the expertise of all of those disciplines,” she said.

The ETHS Educational Foundation was established in 2005 to raise funds for the high school in addition to public funding. Each year, the Foundation’s Board of Trustees focuses fundraising efforts on one project, Caan said. This year, the Foundation will work to raise the $100,000 goal by June 30.

To raise the money, the Foundation will host fundraising events during the year and send a year-end appeal letter to alumni and parents of current students. The first such fundraising event, the ETHS Wildkit Golf Outing on Sept. 21, raised about $20,000 toward the $100,000 goal.

In total, Caan said that the Foundation has already raised $40,000.

“What happened to me is a whole realm of possibilities opened up, educational and vocational, as a result of going to Evanston Township and graduating," Schaeffer said. "And I hope that the same can happen for other students."



Purdue plans adding 107 engineering professors

Purdue University plans to hire more than 100 new engineering professors and boost engineering enrollment by 10 percent over the next five years to help move the school to the top of the engineering field, the acting president said.

Purdue had faced a choice: either reduce the number of students admitted to the College of Engineering to ensure quality standards are maintained or add new faculty to cope with growing undergraduate enrollment, acting President Tim Sands said Tuesday. The school's enrollment jumped 17 percent between 2006 and 2011 to 7,087.

"We are ... concerned some of our Indiana students were finding it harder to get into engineering, and we don't want to do that. We should be serving them," Sands said.

Purdue could invest up to $200 million initially in the new hiring of junior and senior staffers.

Leah Jamieson, dean of the College of Engineering, said as many as 107 new professors in mechanical, astronautics and biomechanical engineering will be hired in the next five years, increasing their ranks from 358 to 465.The effort will add to the school's new environmental and ecological engineering division, which recently was given state approval to offer bachelor's degrees.

Purdue College of Engineering stands joint 10th with Texas and Princeton universities in the U.S. News World Report's ranking of best undergraduate engineering programs.

President-elect of the National Society of Professional Engineers Robert Green told the Journal & Courier ( ) for a Wednesday story that Purdue's plan will attract national attention in light of recent shrinking higher education funding amid a recession that's reduced endowments and forced states to cut appropriations.

"Announcing to hire 100 new faculty at any institution will make a lot of people take notice," he said.

Green said the general trend in recent years has been for engineering schools everywhere to go slow on hiring faculty and yet admit more students. He said the nation needs more licensed, professional engineers.

Support staff could grow by 105 if all the professors are hired as planned, including lab managers, academic advisers and additions to the college's business and information technology office. This would boost college support staff to about 480.

Jamieson said Purdue may need to lease additional offices to accommodate the new hires.



Major conference focused on teaching STEM disciplines returned to IUPUI

For the fourth consecutive year, the Midwest Noyce Regional Conference brought scholars to Indianapolis for a conference focused on preparing more math and science teachers in K-12 education as well as science, technology, engineering and math higher education faculty.

The Midwest Noyce Regional Conference took place Thursday and Friday, Oct. 4 and 5, at the University Place Conference Center and Hotel on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus. The conference host was the Urban Center for the Advancement of STEM Education, or UCASE, at IUPUI, a joint project of the Indiana University School of Education at IUPUI, the Purdue School of Science at IUPUI, and the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI.

Reflecting the current teaching and education policy environment, the conference was titled “Common Core, NGSS and Digital Learners: STEM Teaching at the Crossroads.” The title refers to the initiative toward a “common core” curriculum across states and the similar “Next Generation Science Standards,” or NGSS, that seeks commonality in science teaching standards.

“The most important factor in ensuring educational excellence is great teachers who have both deep content knowledge in the subjects and mastery of the pedagogical skills required to teach the subjects well,” said Kim Nguyen, operations director for UCASE. “Effective teachers would enable, engage and empower learners who, in response to such teaching, acquire much deeper learning of the subjects. Conference participants have the opportunity to learn about the expectations of today’s students for more socially based, project based and digitally rich learning environments.”

The National Science Foundation administers the Robert Noyce Scholarship Program and funded the Indianapolis conference. Noyce Scholarships support graduate degrees for prospective science and mathematics teachers who may be undergraduates in STEM disciplines or STEM professionals making a career change. Noyce Scholarship recipients commit to teaching in a high-poverty school after earning a degree or certification.

The conference invited the Noyce program participants for two days of professional development surrounding best practices in teaching across the STEM disciplines. Presenters and participants traveled from as far away as northern California and Vermont to attend the session. Sessions focused on such matters as assessing teaching and learning, applying the new common core standards to course content and combining disciplines such as teaching literacy through science.

Annela Teemant, associate professor of second language education at the IU School of Education at IUPUI, led a session titled “Tailoring STEM Instruction for Diverse Learners.”

“We need radical shifts, not minor tweaks, in our thinking about best practices if we are going to create the types of classroom cultures that respect and empower low-income, multilingual and multicultural students,” Teemant said about her session. “We know what matters most, but teachers need ongoing professional development that supports this type of radical change.”

Other sessions included an opening keynote from the National Science Foundation’s Joan Prival, speaking about the accomplishments and work ahead for the Noyce Scholarship program. Dave Dimmett, senior vice president and chief of staff of Project Lead the Way, a provider of STEM education curricular programs for middle and high school students, closed the proceedings Friday with an address about the work his organization is doing. Dimmett is a graduate of the IU School of Education, earning a Bachelor of Arts in 1993 and a Master of Science in 2000, and sits on the school’s alumni board of directors.

The Noyce Scholarship program first began at IUPUI in 2005, funding the Transition to Teaching program for math and science teachers coming from another career. A Noyce Scholars program focused on undergraduate science majors began in 2007, followed by a new math and science Transition to Teaching program in 2009. 




Students benefit from new Purdue engineering degree

A recently approved engineering degree is great news for a Purdue student who grew up wanting to protect the environment.

Shelley Koehn, a junior in the College of Engineering, said she’s excited about the new environmental and ecological engineering degree. It was approved Sept. 14 by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. Koehn is one of 42 students who are transitioning into the new major this academic year.

“I’m from Washington state, so I grew up by mountains and water, and my family’s pretty green,” Koehn said. “I just want a career that helps protect the environment.”

Since she began that pursuit at Purdue, she’s been in an incubator multidisciplinary engineering program and has taken courses related to environmental engineering because there wasn’t an official degree for it yet.

“It’s basically the same work, but (multidisciplinary engineering) isn’t officially accredited,” Koehn explained. “Everyone in the program is pretty excited to actually have a major now.”

John Sutherland, Fehsenfeld Family head of environmental and ecological engineering, said the new degree has become one of high demand across the nation.

“It turns out that environmental engineering is the second fastest growing engineering discipline,” Sutherland said. “I believe in terms of actual positions out there, it may be the sixth largest engineering discipline.”

The assistant head of the new division, Stephen Hoffmann, said students who pursue the degree will most likely work in one of three places: environmental consulting firms; the public sector at the federal, state or local level; or within industries not necessarily linked to environmental engineering.

“Every industry in their major will have environmental issues,” Hoffmann said, “so big companies are wanting to have environmental engineers on staff.”

Hoffmann said the new degree offers a tremendous opportunity for the University in terms of students already at Purdue, as well as students still in high school.

“This is a field in demand, so students even in high school know that this is something they want to do,” Hoffmann said. “To be able to tell them that we have this degree is something that will be really attractive to (prospective) students.”

Koehn said she hopes to work in fields such as alternative energy research or solar energy development one day, and now, she’ll be in courses more specifically aimed toward her areas of interest.

She added that the degree offers her and other transitioning students an opportunity for a more in-depth education.

“Before, we were taking (courses) through civil, agricultural and biological engineering departments,” she said. “Now, we’ll have our own faculty and staff ... people who are teaching actual environmental engineering classes, so that’s really great.”




NASA Selects Teachers To Fly Student Experiments In Reduced Gravity Aircraft

Teachers from six NASA Explorer Schools (NES) have been selected to receive the 2012 School Recognition Award for their contributions to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

The teachers selected are from Woodrow Wilson Middle School, Glendale, Calif.; Franke Park Elementary School, Fort Wayne, Ind.; Mountview Road School, Morris Plains, N.J.; Corpus Christi Catholic School, Chambersburg, Pa.; Fairport High School, Fairport N.Y.; and Forest Lake Elementary Technology Magnet School, Columbia, S.C.

In April 2013, three teachers from each school will travel to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. There they will have the opportunity to fly aboard the agency's reduced gravity aircraft and conduct experiments designed by their students. The experiments will examine the acceleration and inertia of objects, how fluids with different viscosities behave in microgravity, and how the absence of gravity affects mass and weight.

"Congratulations to the NES teachers selected for this innovative NASA experience. The reduced gravity flights allow teachers to conduct scientific investigations in a microgravity environment, similar to how experiments are conducted on the International Space Station," said Cecelia Fletcher, acting program manager for primary and secondary education at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "This experiential learning opportunity helps to spread the excitement of STEM education with teachers and students throughout the NASA Explorer School network."

A team of NASA personnel reviewed many applications before selecting these six schools for their exemplary classroom practices and innovative uses of NES resources to engage a broad school population. These schools were chosen from more than 470 schools that are registered participants in the NASA Explorer Schools project.

The NASA Explorer Schools project is the classroom-based gateway for students in grades 4-12 that focuses on stimulating STEM education using agency content and themes.

For more information about the Explorer Schools Project, visit:

To watch a four-minute video that provides project information and shows previous winners aboard the reduced gravity aircraft, visit:

For more information about NASA's education programs, visit:



Why Career Education Might Help Curb ‘Brain Drain’ In Some Indiana Cities

Miranda Fox thought she wanted to be an architect. But after taking a drafting class through her high school’s career and technical education program, she couldn’t imagine spending the rest of her life sketching homes. So her teacher suggested she give construction management a try.

The next year Fox helped oversee peers enrolled in C4 Columbus Area Career Connection’s building trades program as they built a residential home. She learned skills that helped her land an internship with a local construction company.

“Fast forward to where I am now,” says Fox. “I have a four-year degree from Purdue from the construction management program. I spent a few years in the construction industry as a construction project manager, and I’ve recently transitioned to Cummins here in Columbus as a facility operations leader.”

Cummins and other employers in Columbus who support local career and technical education programs say the partnerships are two-way streets: They provide financial assistance to local schools in exchange for high school graduates who are better prepared to enter the workforce — and more likely to stay in Indiana.

How Career Training Translates To Job Opportunities

“Brain drain” is a problem in many Indiana cities. An Indiana University report released last year found that only about 43 percent of students who graduated from a public university in 2000 remained in the state five years later. The problem is even more pronounced among graduates with higher levels of education degree attainment.

In Bartholomew, Brown, Decatur and Jackson counties — the region C4 serves — 60 percent or more of 2009 college graduates remained in Indiana a year later. Anecdotally, many Columbus employers say the connections students make in high school through career training programs encourage them to return to the area after continuing their education elsewhere.


Take Fox, for example. The internship she had with Taylor Brothers Construction right after high school led to other internship opportunities in other Indiana cities. But when Taylor Brothers offered her a job when she graduated from college, she decided to stay in Columbus.


Columbus Police Chief Jason Maddix points out that there’s a significant cost associated with training new officers — about $40,000. So he likes seeing job applicants who graduated from the C4 protective services program before going on to get their degrees.


“They have ties to Columbus. They’re less likely to leave the department in three or four years,” Maddix says.


The police department isn’t the only employer in town that sees significant savings in local career and technical education graduates.


Steve Mackey, a learning and development leader at Cummins, says career and technical education is an important check employers can use to make sure applicants will like the work they’re hired to do. So Cummins gives a hiring preference to applicants with technical training.


Why Businesses Benefit From Career Education, Too

What Columbus employers say they’re seeing with C4 graduates may be part of a broader national trend. Alisha Hyslop is assistant director of public policy for the Association for Career and Technical Education, a group that advocates for better career training while students are still in school.

“High schools already work closely with local businesses and industry to offer work-based learning, like internships and job shadowing,” says Hyslop. “Students tell us all the time they didn’t even know those jobs existed before they were exposed through those opportunities.”

Hyslop says she’s not surprised Columbus employers are seeking an uptick in applications from graduates of local career and technical education programs. But she says if C4 and other programs really want to be successful in curbing brain drain, then they need to challenge the perception that career and technical education attracts low ability students.

“One stereotype of career and technical education is the college issue, that students don’t get as rigorous of an academic education than other students,” says Hyslop. “That might have been true 30 or 40 years ago. But it’s definitely not true now.”

Hyslop says numerous studies have shown students enrolled in career and technical education programs keep pace with their peers on high school exit exams and other standardized tests. In 2009, about 80 percent of U.S. students enrolled in career education classes passed high school English language arts assessments. That’s right on track with the target pass rate for all students.

Of course, Hyslop concedes that the biggest reason brain drain occurs is because graduates can’t find jobs in the cities or states where they grew up. That tracks with what David Audretsch, an IU professor of economic development, told StateImpact last year. He says Indiana’s failed to market itself as a place recent graduates want to live and work.

But other states have changed their image in recent years. Hyslop says Alabama used strong career and technical education programs and the promise of skilled laborers to lure manufacturers to the state. Now it’s No. 5 in the country for automotive production.




Indianapolis museum receives grant for science education


A suburban Indianapolis living history museum could become a model for building interest in science, technology, engineering and math through a project funded by the National Science Foundation.

The Indianapolis Business Journal reports the Conner Prairie Interactive Historical Park in Fishers has received $2.3 million to find a way to encourage other history museums to incorporate science and the other often daunting fields into their exhibits.

The three-year venture will revolve around a science lab called "Prairie Science" and will include a wind- and water-energy exhibit that will allow children to learn how a wind turbine works.

Wyn Jennings of the NSF says the grant is rare for history museums but reflects the foundation's desire to find alternative ways to drive people into STEM fields.





Walker Career Center Selected for PRIME grant

Walker Career Center has long been a leader in Project Lead the Way (PLTW) pre-engineering program and recently was rewarded for their leadership. For the second year in a row, Walker Career Center was awarded a $10,000 PRIME (Partnership Response in Manufacturing Education) grant to supplement their PLTW pre-engineering program.


The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) and 3M Aearo chose Walker to receive this grant because of their outstanding performance and service. Last year, Walker was chosen as one of six programs in the country, and the only one in Indiana, to receive this recognition. This year, they were chosen once again to receive this grant as one of only 15 in the nation.


Leading off the presentation was Laurie Maxson, Senior Program Manager for the SME Education Foundation. Ms. Maxson stated that those receiving the PRIME grants are those who have programs that represent exemplary manufacturing education in the United States. Supported locally by 3M, Robert Hoffman, 3M Plant Manager for Aearo and Smantha Klein, 3M Aearo Human Resources Supervisor were on hand to help with the award. Robert stated that 3M would like to, “have students come out and see what is going on in the manufacturing environment; what the real opportunities are. What’s growing, what’s declining and understand what’s going on in the manufacturing world.” Additional comments were shared by Walker Career Center Director, Lou Anne Schwenn; Master teacher and Engineering and Department Chair, Steve Rogers; Master teacher, Jim Hanson and PLTW National Director of School Certification, Terri Schulz.


Walker Career Center supports PLTW pre-engineering by offering a four-year pathway for students interested in exploring or pursuing a career in engineering. Students can take Introduction to Engineering and Design, Principles of Engineering and Design, Computer Integrated Manufacturing and Civil Engineering and Architecture. All classes offer dual credit with Ivy Tech Community College allowing students to graduate from high school with 12 hours of transcripted college credit.


The PLTW program at Walker Career Center is certified by PLTW and is fortunate to host Master teachers, Steve Rogers and Jim Hanson. Master teachers are called upon by the PLTW organization to train others teachers interested in teaching the PLTW curriculum. They are also the practitioners that PLTW calls upon write, review, and pilot new curriculum. For more information about Walker Career Center PLTW pre-engineering program, call 532-6150.





Saint Mary's receives $840,000 for STEM scholarships

SOUTH BEND — Saint Mary’s College has been awarded $840,000 in grants to provide scholarships to students in the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics.


A total of $600,000 will come from the National Science Foundation and $240,000 from the Henry Luce Foundation.


The Catholic women’s college is actively seeking to increase the number of students studying for careers in STEM fields. “These scholarships will help us with that,” said Patricia Fleming, senior vice president and dean of faculty.


Although students must be enrolled at Saint Mary’s to apply for the scholarships, the funding likely will help attract additional students, Fleming said. “Financial aid is at a premium these days. This gives us another opportunity to improve financial aid,” she said.


The NSF grant will provide scholarships for up to 20 Saint Mary’s students beginning in fall 2013. The program will cover four years and will benefit students majoring in biology, chemistry or mathematics and/or who are completing requirements for the dual degree program in engineering that is offered in conjunction with the University of Notre Dame.


The NSF scholarships will be worth up to $26,500: $6,500 during the student’s sophomore year and up to $10,000 during both junior and senior years, depending on financial need.


The Luce Scholarship program will provide four merit-based scholarships starting in fall 2013. The scholarships will cover tuition, fees and a book allowance for the final two years of schooling at Saint Mary’s. The scholarships will be available to majors in chemistry, mathematics or participating in the dual degree program in engineering. For Luce Scholarships, students must be U.S. citizens and have a grade-point average of 3.5 or higher.


For both scholarships, students will apply and recipients will be chosen by a selection committee. Neither scholarship will be available to students planning to pursue careers in health care professions.


Women make up nearly half of the labor force, but only one in four STEM jobs is held by a woman, according to a report released in March by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Employment in the STEM fields is expected to rise by 10 percent between 2008 and 2018, according to the report, and, in some subspecialties, that growth is projected to be up to 30 percent.


In 2009, women in non-STEM careers had median annual earnings of $35,633, the report stated. In certain STEM fields, median earnings are much higher: ranging from $41,091 (for engineering technicians) to $71,944 (for electrical and electronics engineers).





How Career And Technical Education Is Changing In Indiana

It’s just after 2 o’clock on a Thursday afternoon. The sun is high in the sky, and the construction workers digging the foundation of a storage building at Columbus North High School’s new baseball field are about to call it a day.

But once they’re done, they’ll board a yellow bus and go back to school. That’s because the workers at this construction site are high school students.

Both major party gubernatorial candidates are calling for Indiana high schools to bring back vocational training. Yet most Indiana school districts already have robust career and technical education programs — and they’re not just for students preparing for college.

Why ‘Vocational’ Isn’t The Right Word For Today’s Programs

Mike Pence and John Gregg both say Indiana schools need to prepare students for the workforce, not just college. So vocational education has become a buzzword in the governor’s race. But according to the director of one career and technical education program, that terminology is out-of-date.

 “Yes, we still have students that are skilled in welding,” says Gene Hack, director of C4 Columbus Area Career Connection. “We have students that are skilled in building trade. But it’s not what it used to be when I was a student or when our parents were students.”

Hack used to teach in the school’s building trades program before taking an administrative position in the Bartholomew School Corporation. He says using the word “vocational” minimizes the skills taught in career and technical education.

“Like our students in our precision machining trades, they’re learning a lot of computer and numerical control,” he says. “Our automotive students, a lot of it’s computer-based now. It’s diagnostic. It’s computer-based stuff. It’s not grease up to your elbows.”

Students enrolled in C4 classes can receive instruction in everything from culinary arts to dental hygiene to 3D animation. Four counties — Bartholomew, Brown, Decatur and Jackson — participate in the program, and most classes are offered at one of the two Columbus high schools. That means the majority of students can walk down the hall and pop into their C4 class without having to travel off-site to a career and technical training facility. 

How Career And Technical Education Gives Students A Leg Up

One of the fastest growing programs at C4 is engineering. Those classes are part of Project Lead The Way, a push to prepare more students for careers using math and science.

Columbus North High School senior Seth Reisinger wants to study electrical engineering, so he’s been taking C4 engineering classes for two years. Last year he built a GPS data logger that tracked things like speed and trajectory — of flying fruit, that is. Students then launched a pumpkin out of a cannon at the local farmer’s market.

This year Reisinger’s schedule is a little different. He spends the morning taking classes at the high school, but he spends the afternoon interning at Cummins, the diesel engine manufacturer in Columbus.


“I’ve been able to learn some industry standard tools,” says Reisinger. “I’m working with embedded software control designs.”


Reisinger says the real world experinece he’s getting at Cummins will give him a leg up when he applies to Purdue or MIT. But if he wanted to go straight to work after high school, he’d also have a competitive advantage.

Steve Mackey acts as a liaison between Cummins and schools with programs like C4 to make sure they’re delivering students with skills companies can use.


“If a hiring manager has need for someone doing data analysis in engineering, we’ll come to the school and say, ‘Do you have someone in Project Lead The Way?’”


Of the 200 students who have participated in a school-to-work program at Cummins in the last five years, 40 have gone on to full-time positions with the company. Mackey says they’re given a hiring preference as recognition of the skills they’ve gained in career and technical education programs.


Once they’re employed at Cummins, they qualify for tuition reimbursement.

Training Programs Help Students Think About ‘Next Step’

Whether C4 students are headed to a four-year college or straight into the work force, Hack wants them to start thinking about their next step when they’re still in high school.

“They have chosen a career pathway, and that career pathway a lot of times includes further education,” he says.

Indiana now offers a technical diploma for students who achieve honors while pursuing career education. In 2010, about six percent of Columbus graduates earned the distinction, compared to one percent statewide.

Hack says that doesn’t mean students from Columbus are entering the workforce sooner than graduates elsewhere in the state. Nearly a fifth of C4 students that year also earned an academic honors diploma.

In an exit survey, about 60 percent of C4 graduates told the school they planned to continue their education. Half were pursuing fields of study or employment related to their high school training.




A recent national study showed that student achievement in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects has shown small improvements in recent years. However, the United States still trails many other countries in student learning in those areas.
Different experts cite a variety of reasons why the U.S. trails in STEM. One that is often cited is that there hasn’t been a focus on those subjects, especially in the early grades, in part because of legislation that has led to an emphasis on other areas.
In Indiana, and in the Warsaw region, a number of initiatives are planned or underway to advance STEM education.  With nearly 7,000 jobs in a science- and engineering-driven field such as orthopedics, the Warsaw region’s future is dependent on that knowledge.
Warsaw Community Schools, citing a need highlighted by an OrthoWorx-commissioned study, will launch its first dedicated STEM Academy later this summer. It recently converted Washington Elementary, a traditional elementary school, to a STEM school.  Warsaw’s efforts were greatly aided by a $440,000 Innovation Grant from the Indiana Department of Education. The grant will allow the school to revise its curriculum, train faculty and acquire new technology sufficient to purchase new laptops and tablet devices for use by each student.
OrthoWorx is currently working with an educational consultant to explore ways of more formally linking the orthopedic industry to STEM education in the region. It is also examining possible models where OrthoWorx fundingcould be applied to accelerate STEM educational activity.
Other programs are striving to advance STEM education in Indiana. Two such examples are:  The Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, which helps those with bachelor’s degrees in a STEM topic gain teaching credentials and enter into a STEM teaching career; and The National Science and Math Initiative, which has awarded a $7 million grant to be administered by Notre Dame’s Institute for Educational Initiatives to advance teaching in Advanced Placement STEM subjects.
Not every student will pursue a STEM-related career. With so much at stake in the Warsaw and Indiana life sciences economies, it is important that a variety of stakeholders play a role in driving progress in the state.


Veteran superintendent brings turnaround model to schools nationwide


Under the new program, consultants help district staff who often “know what they need to do, but don’t know how to do it,” said Judy Zimny, vice president of Voyager Education Services.
Can turnaround results in one troubled school district be replicated in another? A new partnership between an education intervention provider and veteran superintendent Paul Vallas aims to find out by bringing Vallas’ proven reform model to more schools.
Through the Vallas Turnaround System, teams of educational consultants provide staff training and planning support to chronically underperforming schools. The program launched this summer in Indianapolis Public Schools.
Voyager Education Services, a division of Cambium Learning Group that focuses on academic interventions, announced in June an exclusive partnership with The Vallas Group Inc.
Vallas made a name for himself as a school reformer during stints as superintendent at notoriously challenging districts such as Philadelphia, Chicago, and post-Katrina New Orleans.
His turnaround system focuses on three critical areas—academics, finance, and operations—and aims to strengthen five core factors in troubled districts: Financial Health and Stability; Student-Focused Administration and Operation; Superior Instructional Improvement Models; World-Class Human Resources; and Building Local Capacity.
Often, school staff already are “doing their best,” and they “know what they need to do, but don’t know how to do it,” said Judy Zimny, vice president of Voyager Education Services.
Zimny said the Voyager consultants balance acting as collaborators and leaders as they facilitate proposal planning and oversee implementation—tasks that district staff most likely intended to do but had trouble completing.
The Vallas partnership builds on Voyager’s past work as an intervention provider.
Previously, Voyager focused on solutions for academic intervention. For example, a district suffering from chronically low math or reading scores might bring in Voyager consultants to provide professional development, identify pain points in school culture, or prescribe supplemental curricula.
For districts that are functioning well overall and merely need to boost a particular academic area, that sort of service is enough. But for some schools, the problems are more systemic and require turnaround solutions that extend beyond academic improvement, Zimny said.
She said the Voyager/Vallas partnership works well because Voyager staff members have concrete academic solutions, while the Vallas team is experienced in maintaining a big-picture vision.
“It’s really exciting work, it keeps you feeling like you’re really making a difference,” said Maria DiMarco, who first worked with Vallas as regional director of curriculum and instruction in the Philadelphia Public Schools and has consulted on several of Vallas’ other turnaround teams.
Indianapolis Public Schools will implement the Vallas Turnaround System in John Marshall Community High School, which has performed poorly on state tests for six years, and 14 elementary schools in the surrounding area.
“We’re already enjoying four years of improvement and growth, but on the northeast and east side [of the district], we haven’t had the kind of growth we want to have,” said superintendent Eugene White.
To improve the high school and surrounding neighborhoods, changes will have to begin at the elementary school level, White said.
The Indianapolis project began three months ago, with Voyager consultants assisting district staff as they laid out proposals for change.
After completion of the planning stage, the district began preparing small groups of teachers and administrators to be the leaders of their particular schools.
Once the small groups complete their training, the full staffs of each school will complete professional development to create a cohesive vision for change. By the time the fall semester begins, schools will have methodology in place for observing the effects of the changes on both instruction and leadership.
At major professional development events—such as a kick-off day to introduce the turnaround model to staff—Voyager sends around 20 consultants to meet the district.
“We get quality time from some very outstanding educators to observe and strategize for us to improve what we’re doing,” White said.
Throughout the school year, the Voyager team members spend more than 10 hours every week in schools on what White referred to as “an unprecedented visitation schedule.”
The district has secured funding for the first year, but “if we feel good and it’s working,” the district might extend the project to as long as three years, White said.
He said the district will judge the project’s efficacy based on a combination of qualitative and quantitative data—whether factors such as staff development efforts, changes to infrastructure, and efficiency of operation improve.
DiMarco acknowledged that after a major reformer like Vallas leaves, some changes might become undone and new problems might emerge.
Zimny noted that the Vallas system attempts to minimize these long-term problems by integrating its consultants and procedures into local school administrations already in place.
The abrasive “hiring and firing” that has brought notoriety to some other turnaround stories—such as the District of Columbia Public Schools—“is not a part of what we do,” Zimny said.
When Vallas arrived in Philadelphia, he “brought together” a team of local education experts, many of whom were already working individually on pieces of the problem, DiMarco said. Vallas made their efforts more cohesive under his vision.
White said his staff have been “very receptive” to the Vallas/Voyager intervention.
“They understand they need added support,” he said of the teachers and administrators in his district. “They understand that the problems they deal with are comprehensive problems, and they need a comprehensive approach.”
He added: “We’ve demonstrated improvement, but we feel this project will elevate and escalate our efforts to help us move faster and get greater gains in a shorter period of time.”


IU professor teaching class with avatars

This fall, an Indiana University Kokomo professor will teach an art philosophy class to students who might be disguised as robots, dinosaurs, or vampires.

Gregory Steel is the only IU professor to teach a course in the virtual reality world known as Second Life.

Instead of meeting on the IU Kokomo campus, students create avatars and log in to move their avatars through a virtual classroom, according to IU Kokomo officials.

Second Life is an environment that crosses cartoons with real life. IU’s Second Life campus includes landmarks like IU Kokomo’s Hunt Hall and Bloomington’s Sample Gates. The virtual campus also includes ocean views from most directions.

Steel said he combines the virtual classroom with video chats, eMail, and Facebook to meet all of his students’ academic needs.

“I have found that the students are more engaged in learning because there is more room for interaction than in a traditional online course,” Steel said. “This offers the flexibility and convenience of an online course but still allows for a significant amount of the kind of interaction you find in a real classroom. We’re not located in the same space, but at the same time, we are.”

Steel first taught the virtual class in the fall of 2011. He said he found more students participated in class discussion than in a traditional classroom.

Tarja Harney took Steel’s first virtual class. She said she felt less pressure when she was participating in the online discussion.

“When the teacher asks a question, you don’t feel like, ‘Oh no, he’s picking on me, and everybody is looking at me,’” she said. “You could say something without worrying about what everyone else thought because it’s your avatar’s comment, not yours.”

University officials are looking for other ways to use the Second Life program to enhance course offerings, said John Gosney, IU faculty liaison for the Learning Technologies Division of University Technology Services.

The virtual classes are more interactive, so nursing students could use it to treat virtual patients in a safe environment. Or an archaeology class could virtually visit a dig site.

“This has infinitely more possibilities than the current standard of online teaching,” he said. “I think we have an opportunity to look at something that would extend the classroom out into the world. It could become a pretty powerful tool.”


STEM Group Hosts Science Education Training

Several Indiana biology teachers return to the classroom this week in the School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), the site of ongoing teacher training for the nation’s most successful STEM education program, Project Lead the Way (PLTW).

More than 40 science teachers will live and learn on the IUPUI campus during the training session offered July 9-20. The first session held in June involved a similar number of teachers/students who learned new techniques in the biomedical sciences.

Through PLTW, the teachers will learn valuable skills and techniques for experiments and lessons they then can take back to their classrooms. Middle and high school students who participate in PLTW curriculum have better test and retention rates and learn critical-thinking and problem-solving skills—all at no cost for schools.

“Before the education of mathematics and science can be effective in raising the analytical skills of society, the training of teachers must change,” said Jeff Watt, associate dean of the School of Science and IUPUI’s director for PLTW. “(The program) provides the strong support system needed to make this happen through the collaboration of the educational community and society.”

Following a few days of classroom learning, the teachers will begin performing experiments to help them learn more about DNA analysis, genetic solutions to cancer, nanotechnology, robotics and other advancements in medicine. Media interested in capturing the most visual elements of this training are invited to an open house.

What: Project Lead the Way hands-on training of local science teachers.
When: 2 p.m., July 12
Where: Room SL 241 of the Science building on the IUPUI campus, 402 N. Blackford.
Why: See the training of Hoosier science teachers and the skills they will take back to their high school classrooms.

PLTW offers a rigorous and innovative training program for teachers and students across the country in three primary areas: Gateway to Technology, Pathway to Engineering and the Biomedical Sciences Program, the focus of the local session.

Since 1997, the non-profit has served more than 400,000 students and more than 10,000 teachers in all 50 states. Students who complete the courses in high school go on to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields at nearly 10 times the average rate.

“No other program fosters the curiosity and rewards enthusiasm to learn more than PLTW,” said Bev Ransdell, who retired as a science teacher at Arsenal Tech High School in Indianapolis after more than 20 years. She now coordinates the local PLTW affiliate serving central Indiana high schools.

Ransdell also said the experience helps foster a support network for teachers as they seek ways to continue to implement new and exciting challenges into their science classrooms.


Anderson University to offer new program, courses


Anderson University is doing a lot in a short span to meet the needs and wants of the times.


The addition of an engineering program, along with new courses and other changes, is a part of the ongoing revitalization efforts in AU’s Strategic Plan, intended to strengthen academics, said Director of Communications Chris Williams.


University President James Edwards said the changes have a lot to do with the market, and that “healthy higher education programs cannot stand still.”


“We’re trying to respond to changes we see in demand and interest,” he said.


What’s possibly the most exciting of all changes is AU’s “new venture” into the field of engineering, Edwards said, with the addition of an entire program containing civil, mechanical, electrical and computer engineering along with a complementary major in chemical engineering.


The university is working with the Higher Learning Commission to get the program started. With pending HLC approval, Edwards said projection to begin offering the program is fall of 2013.


STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is a vastly growing field in the U.S., oftentimes with higher pay.


“It (the program) really grew out of faculty assessments in their own ability and the need in our area,” Edwards said.


He said they have the innovative faculty needed to get started with strength in mathematics, chemistry and physics.


Edwards added that the change won’t take away from the many students who come in wanting to enter service fields like social work, ministry and teaching — all traditionally lower paying fields, but will attract more strong students interested in STEM.


He said there is more of a concern for vocation potential these days, and that engineering is the third highest interest area in potential AU students.


Williams said that the program is being designed to achieve accreditation by the Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology.


“It opens up a lot of exciting possibilities for the university,” he said. “It’s something AU has considered and evaluated for quite some time.”


He also said AU will be one of only a few schools in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) in Indiana and nationwide to offer the full engineering degree.


Edwards said they plan to use marketing and summer camps to attract students to the new program as they build up its reputation. Once on campus, it’s really the faculty who will be the attraction, he added.


“Engineering is the most aggressive and promising academic addition we’ve made in my 22 years (at AU),” he said.





University to Showcase STEM Projects

Indianapolis, Ind. -- In a state that is growing in recognition as an engineering and technology hotbed, local entities are teaming up to make sure Hoosier high school students have the opportunities they need to rise to the top in the increasingly-competitive fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This year for the very first time, high school Project Lead the Way (PLTW) teams from central Indiana and Ohio will travel to IUPUI on Wednesday, April 25, to exhibit the results of their hands-on project work.
“We’re excited to see what these students have come up with” said David Russomanno, Dean of the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI. “It’s great to have their energy and enthusiasm on campus, and to provide a place to help foster innovation, grow presentation skills and cast a vision for their post-high school success.”

Throughout the year, high school teams have been working on student-designed, investigative projects—everything from robots to self-made breath analyzers to a claw crane vending machine. In February, one local PLTW team was asked to travel to the White House to present its innovative project prototype to President Obama.

“Our students need experience-based programs like this to capture their interest, show them what they can do, and give them a realistic picture of the work it will take to accomplish their dreams,” said Greenfield High School PLTW Teacher Rebecca Schini, organizer of Wednesday’s exhibition event. “As a teacher, I’m incredibly thankful to have the support and resources of Project Lead the Way, IUPUI and others who are really opening up opportunities for our students to excel.”

Project Lead The Way is the leading provider of rigorous, innovative, hands-on STEM education curricular programs used in middle and high schools for more than 400,000 students across all fifty states. PLTW recently moved its headquarters from New York to Indiana to better accomplish its mission, including providing support to more than 350 Hoosier middle and high school programs.

The Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI has been a longtime supporter of the PLTW program, hosting hundreds of Hoosier high school students each year for a PLTW conference, including interactive workshops and presentations from engineering legends like Astronaut David Wolf.

The School also hosts numerous high school summer engineering camps and facilitates a large mentoring/tutoring program within the IPS system. To find out more, contact Terri Talbert-Hatch at

About the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI: The mission of the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI is to be one of the best urban university leaders in the disciplines of engineering and technology recognized locally, nationally and internationally. The school’s goal is to provide students an education that will give them the leverage to be leaders in their communities, industry and society. For additional information on the School of Engineering & Technology, go to

About IUPUI: Created as a partnership between two world-renowned universities and destined to be the state’s urban research and academic health sciences campus, IUPUI has rapidly grown in size and stature since it was established in 1969. The partnership between the state’s two major public universities – Indiana University and Purdue University – enables IUPUI to bring together a tremendous range of degree programs in 21 schools and academic units for nearly 30,000 students who earn their degrees from Indiana University or Purdue University. Today, IUPUI is the third strong pillar supporting public higher education in Indiana. For more information on IUPUI, go to




$7 Million Grant to Aid STEM Education

A new University of Notre Dame partnership with the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) will help to bring STEM college-level courses to more students in secondary schools across Indiana.
Funding from the U.S. Department of Education, announced last week, cleared the way for NMSI to make a $7 million grant to implement additional College Board’s Advanced Placement math, science, and English courses in Indiana through a program administered by Notre Dame’s Institute for Educational Initiatives (IEI).

NMSI, an initiative launched several years ago by top leaders in business, education, and science to reverse the troubling decline in American math and science education, is expanding to Indiana its highly successful program to effect large-scale change in access to and success in AP courses offered by Indiana’s high schools.

The Advanced Placement Training and Incentive Program in Indiana (AP-TIP IN), set to begin implementation in 34 secondary schools starting in 2012, aims to ensure that more students are better prepared for college and for success in the highly technical and highly competitive jobs of the future.

With the support of BioCrossroads, an enterprise catalyzing the continued growth of Indiana’s life sciences industry, Notre Dame’s IEI has already overseen the training of about 225 AP teachers. This key step toward establishing new courses through the AP-TIP IN program has also received ongoing assistance from the Lumina Foundation and the Lilly Endowment.

“This partnership is a team effort bringing together the worlds of education, business, and government,” says Joyce Johnstone, the Ryan Senior Director for Program Development at the IEI. “The grant from NMSI allows us to move forward on a path that many different stakeholders see as crucial for Indiana’s youth and for our schools.” Johnstone is primary investigator for the project.

Karen Morris, the AP TIP-IN program director, adds, “The expansion of AP teaching capacity in Indiana could not have been accomplished without the enthusiastic assistance of Dr. Tony Bennett [Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction] and the state’s Department of Education. Our colleagues there have generously contributed to the effort,” she says, noting that schools all around Indiana have shared in the commitment.

Rev. Timothy Scully, C.S.C., director of the IEI, says the NMSI partnership also reflects Notre Dame’s commitment to advance access for the nation’s primary and secondary students to quality education. “This grant illustrates the Institute for Educational Initiatives' unwavering commitment to advance educational opportunity for all children, whether in public, charter, or faith-based schools," Father Scully says. “We seek to galvanize the efforts of all actors in our state and in our country to improve the academic quality of the curricular offerings available to students and teachers, in this instance especially in Math and Science."

Schools participating in the NMSI-supported AP program during the last three years have recorded triple-digit increases in the number of qualifying scores, based on newly released College Board data:

• A 124% increase in passing exams in AP math, science, and English among all students, compared to a 23% increase nationally over the same period of time.

• A 216% increase in passing exams in AP math, science, and English among African-American and Hispanic students, compared to 50% nationally.

• A 144% increase in passing exams in AP math and science among female students, compared to 20% nationally.

The newly announced federal funding for NMSI makes possible NMSI’s expansion into Indiana and Colorado. These join the list of current NMSI AP partner states: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Virginia.





Skills for America’s Future Initiative Announces New Industry Partnership at U.S. Department of Education’s Third Community College Summit in Indianapolis


On March 23, the U.S. Department of Education held its third regional community college summit at Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis. Ivy Tech is the state’s largest public postsecondary institution and the nation’s largest statewide community college with single accreditation. The all-day meeting included representatives of community colleges, business, labor, industry, philanthropy, state and local governments, and students. In addition to Indiana, representatives came from Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. ) as a new corporate partner. UPS plans to establish a new workforce advisory board to expand career options for students in community college training programs, improve job placement rates and promote economic growth in local communities. Skills for America’s Future chair, Penny Pritzker stated, ―Partnerships like this one between employers and community colleges are a win for students, a win for businesses, and a win for our economy.‖


U.S. Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter gave the summit’s opening remarks. Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education, Brenda Dann-Messier, moderated the lunchtime panel, Unique Industry Partnerships With Community Colleges. Roberto Rodriguez, special assistant to President Obama for education, gave the closing remarks. Additional speakers included Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Ivy Tech’s president, Thomas Snyder.


During the summit, Skills for America’s Future—a new initiative launched by President Obama last October to improve industry partnerships with community colleges—announced United Parcel Service (UPS


For more information on the summits—the next is to to be held in San Diego on April 15 and a virtual symposium is scheduled for April 27, please visit OVAE’s home page.