BHE Funds Northeast Region STEM Education

01/26/2007


Jan. 26, 2007

LOWELL ߝ The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education (BHE) has awarded a two-year grant of $322,986 from the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Pipeline Fund to the Northeast Regional Pre-K-16 Network, of which UMass Lowell is the lead partner. This new funding will help expand STEM efforts that are already underway in Northeastern Massachusetts. 

The STEM Pipeline Fund is a workforce development initiative designed to increase student interest and teacher preparation in STEM subjects. Originally created in 2003, the fund was recapitalized in 2006 with an additional $4 million as part of economic stimulus legislation. This represented the first infusion of money into the fund since it was established in 2003 with $2.5 million.

“We must do everything we can to foster in students a love of math and science, and in teachers, the skills needed to inspire and teach in these important subjects,” said Patricia Plummer, chancellor of the BHE. “STEM disciplines are expected to drastically reshape the regional and global economy. Without proper training, too many of our students and residents are going to lose out on the careers of the future.”

The Northeast Pipeline Network received funding for its STEM Fellows program, which will work with teams of middle school teachers from 15 districts including Andover, Beverly, Billerica, Chelmsford, Hamilton-Wenham Regional Schools, the Innovation Charter School, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Lynnfield, Methuen, North Reading, Reading, Salem and Tritown Union (Boxford, Middleton, Topsfield).

The STEM Fellows will participate in a tailored series of professional development activities, including partners Salem State College, Northern Essex Community College, UMass Lowell, Museum of Science, EduTron and the Northshore Workforce Investment Board. Also required is the development of a strategic action plan, to be implemented by the teachers with the support of the districts.

“The success last year of an intensive professional development program for 38 teachers, designated as ‘fellows’ from eight school districts, has generated optimism for the potential impact on student interest and knowledge,” stated Donald Pierson, lead partner of the Northeast Network and dean of the UMass Lowell’s Graduate School of Education. “The new round of funding will enable us to replicate and extend this approach to more schools and more teachers throughout the region.”

“This new funding provides an excellent opportunity for UMass Lowell to continue to lead the state in providing opportunities for teachers in math and science to motivate students to pursue careers in these areas,” said Krishna Vedula, professor of chemical engineering, UMass Lowell. 

The grant is part of a larger $1.7 million grant announced by the Board of Higher Education to support multi-year, collaborative projects in six Regional Pre-K-16 Networks: Berkshire, Cape and Islands, Central, Northeast, Pioneer Valley and Southcoast. The Networks bring together K‑12, higher education, businesses and community organizations to address regional education and workforce needs.

The network developed and produced this program in 2004 - 05 and will bring back 15 STEM fellows from the previous cohort to serve as STEM leaders. The STEM leaders will continue to implement their action plans in their districts as well as serve as mentors for the new STEM fellows.

“The future and success of our state’s economy in the 21st century will be more dependent on the education and skills of our citizens in science, technology, engineering and math than ever before,” said State Sen. Steven C. Panagiotakos (D-Lowell), vice chair of the Joint Committee on Higher Education. “Therefore, we have to continue to invest in motivating and educating students and teachers in these areas.”  Panagiotakos also was recently named co-chair of the Robert H. Goddard Council on STEM education, which will advise the Board of Higher Education on STEM workforce development programs. 

Early Pipeline Fund grants enabled the BHE to distribute $2.3 million in 2004 - 05 in support of 19 regional projects statewide. Combined, these projects reached more than 4,500 students and 520 teachers in 115 school districts, and included a variety of student enrichment programs, a statewide student internship program and professional development programs for teachers. In 2004 - 05, the Northeast Pipeline Network received $238,961 to develop and implement the initial STEM Fellows program.

A second Call for Proposals for the STEM Pipeline Fund will be released by the Board of Higher Education in spring 2007.

UMass Lowell, a comprehensive university with a national reputation in science, engineering and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success in a diverse world and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health of the region. UML offers its 11,000 students more than 120 degree choices, internships, five-year combined bachelor’s to master’s programs and doctoral studies in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management, the School of Health and Environment, and the Graduate School of Education. www.uml.edu.

More information about the awards may be found on the website:  www.mass.edu/pipeline.

For more information, contact media@uml.edu or 978-934-3224