'Fast-Track Iowa's Future' Conference a success   

Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend speaks to a full house of school-business partnerships in the making about the importance of work-based learning opportunities in Iowa.

More than 550 community leaders from all sectors of Iowa assembled at the Events Center in Des Moines on June 21 to learn, develop and grow localized school-business partnerships with the goal of inspiring and preparing students for STEM careers. Encouraged to attend in teams, leaders in workforce and economic development, business and industry, higher education and K-12, along with attendees representing informal, non-profit, youth and government sectors, connected to experience a day full of rallying keynote speakers and in-depth presentations on the best-known, emergent educational innovations currently transforming and unifying communities around work-based learning.
Joined by Governor Kim Reynolds, STEM Council co-chair, and Lt. Governor Adam Gregg, Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend kicked off the event. Michael Bartlett, policy analyst with the National Governors Association, introduced David Etzwiler, CEO of the Siemens Foundation, both noting Iowa's leadership in setting the stage nationally for community collaboration. Director Townsend emceed the conference, as well as facilitated a panel that framed the conversation for the day on sharing replicable best practices. During lunch, Alliant Energy Chairman, President and CEO Patricia Kampling shared her personal experience with STEM and why she is dedicating her company to the Iowa STEM mission.
Two in-depth breakout sessions featuring 10 topics equipped attendees with resources and information about labor laws and legal issues, internships and externships, recruiting STEM talent, convening community partners and more. A Speed Showcase after lunch spread 18 bite-sized presentations, specifically about a singular program or opportunity, across the ballroom for attendees. 
Contributing to the Future Ready Iowa vision to achieve 70 percent of Iowa's workforce with some type of post-secondary education or training by 2025, the STEM Council led planning alongside instrumental partners, including the Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Workforce Development, Iowa Economic Development Authority, Alliant  Energy, Rockwell Collins, the U.S. Department of Labor, Northeast Iowa Community College and others. Funded in part through a grant from the National Governors Association, the event was also supported by Alliant Energy, AT&T,  Cognizant, Elevate Iowa, ITC Midwest, Iowa Biotech Association, Iowa Workforce Development and Rockwell Collins.
If you missed the event, videos from the keynote speakers, as well as the breakout sessions (coming soon!), can be found at www.IowaSTEM.gov/Archive.
August 20, 2017
STEM Day at the Iowa State Fair
9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
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September 15, 2017
STEM BEST Proposals Due
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Iowa STEM Operations Center
University of Northern Iowa
214 East Bartlett
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0298

PHONE 319-273-2959
E-MAIL Info@IowaSTEM.gov

Iowa businesses featured on STEM career billboards 

Amber LeBarge with M.A. Ford, manufacturer of custom cutting tools headquartered in Davenport, is one of nine Iowans driving career inspiration along the highways this summer on billboards throughout Iowa. 
A family's summer road trip across Iowa may just inspire the next aerospace engineer, botanist, industrial machinist, chemist or other high-demand STEM career professional thanks to the help of some of Iowa STEM's Corporate Partners. Nine dynamic companies volunteered their inspirational employees to champion Iowa STEM's first-ever career awareness billboard campaign now on display in 18 communities throughout the state.
Each corporate partner photographed their own employee and provided the image while Strategic America, Iowa STEM's marketing partner, negotiated the donated billboard space, keeping the cost to Iowa STEM minimal. Highlighting the critical STEM occupations in their businesses from information technology to industrial manufacturing and bioscience to construction, the nine participating companies are:
  • Alliant Energy
  • DuPont Pioneer
  • ITC Midwest
  • Kemin Industries
  • M.A. Ford
  • POET
  • Principal
  • Rockwell Collins
  • The Weitz Company
If you see an Iowa STEM Career billboard in your area ( see map and billboard designs ), snap a photo and tag us on Facebook , Twitter or Instagram @IowaSTEM. 


Since West Delaware County Community School District earned a STEM BEST award in 2016, almost 20 community leaders have committed their interest so far in DelCo BEST and will bring new projects to the program come fall.
STEM BEST® is a win-win-win. It creates projects for students to explore their passions. It opens doors for businesses to contribute to career awareness and shape the future workforce. It presents examples for teachers to connect content areas to the jobs outside school walls. And, it is unifying 18 communities across Iowa, including Delaware County in Northeast Iowa.
West Delaware Community School District earned a STEM BEST award in November 2016, and in the last eight months the team has pulled together a plan for a sustainable program for students this fall. They call it "DelCo BEST"-- an emergent school-business partnership of four lead instructors, 16 prospective students and 19 community organizations and businesses. From the Manchester Chamber of Commerce and the Delaware County Historical Society to Rockwell Collins and Loecke Building Services, each partner will attend a "Partner Palooza" this fall to propose ideas and form dedicated teams.
"Community members who are partnered with students will help design the curriculum for each initiative," said Tim Felderman, West Delaware High School principal. "Partners will initiate projects and provide resources, while mentors will help students learn the skills they need to be successful on a particular task. The instructor will then help align the required tasks to West Delaware High School's Career Ready Skills."
The lead instructors from four different content areas designed the model after visiting other STEM BEST models and delving into local professional development to solidify their idea for DelCo BEST. From there, the team built a marketing brand and started informing Delaware County about the new opportunity. By May, the DelCo BEST team grew even larger as they attracted commitments from local leaders who packed a room at their community partnership meeting.  Come fall, students will be fully immersed in one of Iowa's newest work-based learning initiatives focused on connecting classrooms to local businesses and careers.
"Students will be able to set goals, demonstrate persistence, effectively manage time, employ organizational and study skills and utilize technology to enhance their learning," Felderman said. "The goal of DelCo BEST is to encourage students to follow their passions to solve authentic problems based on business and community needs."
Ready to start a STEM BEST model in your area? The STEM Council invites proposals from all Iowa public and private schools and districts until September 15 at www.IowaSTEM.gov/STEMBEST/Proposal .

Externship helps STEM teacher tie real-world concepts to 'virtual' careers

Iowa STEM Teacher Extern Mike Jensen, industrial technology teacher at Dubuque Senior High School, tests out his latest virtual reality project for Design Mill Inc. in front of an audience of student interns.
Design Mill, Inc. in Dubuque provides an emergent line of work, creating virtual reality experiences of warehouses for industrial clients to use in real estate or for employee training purposes. Like most STEM careers in Iowa, new ones like this crop up almost every day.

Fortunately each summer, Iowa teachers of STEM subjects have the opportunity to keep up with the trends and immerse themselves in these innovative careers through Iowa STEM Teacher Externships , finding new ways to teach these evolving employability skills and connect what students learn to the jobs in their neighborhoods. This summer, Mike Jensen, an industrial technology teacher at Dubuque Senior High School, is linking up with Design Mill, Inc. to connect his CAD/Modeling classes to the lucrative world of virtual reality.

"I can certainly see an application in education of what I am doing here," Jensen said. "We take 3D laser scans of buildings and convert them from point clouds to mesh models that are then imported into virtual reality. In the end, large-scale real estate firms can virtually showcase facilities to customers or employers can scan a facility to document videos for training purposes."

By the end of his six-week experience, Jensen will have created an inspiring, problem-based project for his students that puts to work the skills and ideas he gained, and he will have developed a strong, lasting school-business partnership with Design Mill, Inc.

"We're not going to lie," said Jasmine Nobis-Olson, Design Mill's creative content manager. "Having an extra team member to accomplish tasks is great, but we really enjoy interacting with someone who can bring fresh perspectives to our projects and business, especially someone coming from an education background that we can push ideas back through the pipeline to prepare the future workforce."

Jensen is one of 66 Teacher Externs this summer across Iowa making it their mission to learn more about the STEM careers available to their students. For more information about the program, visit www.IowaSTEM.gov/Externships