ALEXANDRIA – Northwestern State University has been selected to host the Louisiana Board of Regents LaSTEM Network Center for Region 6. The center will be housed in Alexandria at NSU’s Cenla Campus.
The Louisiana Regional Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Network will be a system of STEM leadership entities strategically positioned across Louisiana, similar to the Regional Labor Market Areas (RLMAs) identified by the Louisiana Workforce Commission, whereby communities, parishes, multi-parish regions and the State can achieve improved STEM education, opportunity and advancement.
It is expected and hoped that some current and developing STEM activities will span one or more STEM Regions. Regions will share information, work together and be interconnected by coordination of resources which can also provide a gateway to other networks and initiatives. The Regional STEM Network and Centers are connected with and serve the statewide Louisiana Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (LaSTEM) Advisory Council.
“The LaSTEM statewide Network will provide an infrastructure creating efficiencies in areas of communication, collaboration, and support,” said Dr. David Lafargue, LaSTEM Program Administrator. “This network will help to bridge gaps meeting the needs of educational and occupational demands in the fields of STEM. We are living in exciting times with which we have been presented with this opportunity and the courage to positively impact Louisiana’s economy and future workforce.”
STEM is an approach to learning and development that integrates the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Through STEM, students develop key skills including problem solving, creativity and critical analysis.
“Education is a critical catalyst for the communities we serve,” said Dr. Darlene Williams, vice president for technology, innovation and economic development at Northwestern State. “This center will provide opportunities for teachers and students to participate in programs they may not otherwise have access to.”
According to the Education Commission of the States, by 2027, the number of STEM jobs will have grown 13 percent, as compared to 9 percent for non-STEM jobs—with positions in computing, engineering and advanced manufacturing leading the way.
“We’re excited to partner with the Louisiana Board of Regents to engage and grow future leaders who have a love for STEM,” said Williams.
The STEM center will provide regional opportunities for PK-16 faculty and students and STEM partners to engage in activities that promote STEM culture and literacy, experiential learning and prepare a STEM workforce for the future. The center will support activities and experiences where faculty and students become immersed in challenging, problem-based learning experiences and engage in scientific inquiry. The center will build a collaborative, sustainable, infrastructure for STEM that fosters collaborative opportunities that inspire young people to be leaders in science, technology, engineering and math and to think like scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs.
The university plans to hire a regional director to oversee the center.