Valparaiso University and Partners Receive $1.58M Grant to Advance STEM Education in Indiana

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education awarded $1,582,584 to Valparaiso University, Ball State University, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis and Purdue University, the institutions that comprise the Hoosier STEM Academy.

“We are grateful to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education for their commitment to STEM education,” said Mark L. Biermann, Ph.D., provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “This grant will enhance educational opportunities in the state of Indiana in the increasingly critical fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. We look forward to continued work with Ball State, IUPUI and Purdue as together we equip tomorrow’s educational leaders and, through them, their students with critical skills for success.”

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields are at the forefront of innovation in the United States economy. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, jobs in the STEM fields are projected to grow twice as fast as those in other fields by 2018, with college graduates in STEM fields expected to earn 26 percent more than college graduates in other fields.

Recognizing the importance of experiential learning to a comprehensive STEM education, Valpo recently opened the Center for the Sciences: Chemistry and Biochemistry. The 55,000-square-foot facility contains primarily wet laboratories for chemistry, biochemistry and biology students and features state-of-the-art equipment that allows for expanded and innovative research opportunities.

Valpo previously participated in the Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellowship program with the other schools that comprise the new Hoosier STEM Academy, which is inspired by the Woodrow Wilson model. Aimed to change the way teachers are prepared, participants focus on a full academic year of clinical experience in real-world classrooms. After their year of master’s degree coursework and clinical preparation, fellows commit to teach for at least three years in a high-need Indiana school, with ongoing support and mentoring.

As part of the newly rebranded Hoosier Stem Academy, Valpo will provide pre-service opportunities for a fourth cohort of STEM-educated college graduates to earn a one-year master’s degree in order to become licensed high school teachers in science or math in the state of Indiana. Valpo will also offer classes for in-service teachers to complete graduate STEM coursework, which they may apply toward a graduate certificate and/or credentialing to teach dual-credit courses.