The mission of the University of Houston STEM Center is to meet local, state and national goals that inspire, attract, and retain more students into science and engineering careers, or into the teaching profession of those subjects, more commonly referred to as Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). The STEM Center brings together the University of Houston’s own STEM programs together with STEM efforts in the community, with the intent to contribute more rapidly to the state’s and nation’s STEM workforce and prosperity. The center serves as a single Point of Contact for UH STEM policies, programs, and inquiries and responses to the external community, provides focused outreach, and facilitates submission of STEM-related proposals to external grantors.
The center is a manifestation of UH’s alignment with the goals and strategies outlined by the National Academy of Engineering’s Rising Above the Gathering Storm reports. The center’s goal is to move the United States K-12 education system in science and mathematics to a leading position by global standards, and to encourage more United States citizens to pursue careers in mathematics, science, technology and engineering. To meet global standards, the STEM Center addresses the talent pipeline by working proactively with local K-12 teachers, administrators and parents.
The STEM Center will engage K-12 students, teachers, undergraduates and faculty, and will work with the science organizations, such as the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Space Center Houston and the Houston Zoo. It will identify funding and collaboration opportunities, optimize partnerships with private and public sectors, support the collection and communication of data/outcomes, and improve the public literacy about STEM and its importance to the future of the nation.
Guided by the principles of Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future and Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited—Rapidly Approaching Category 5, reports by the National Academy of Engineering, the STEM center will increase America’s talent pool by vastly improving K-12 science and mathematics education, and make the United States the most attractive setting in which to study and perform research so that we can develop, recruit, and retain the best and brightest students, scientists, and engineers from within the United States and throughout the world.
The UH STEM Center is among 136 other U.S. universities with similar centers that work directly with K-12 student populations, and with STEM teachers. At present, there are at least seven STEM centers in the State of Texas supported by Educate Texas in partnership with the Texas Education Agency.
The STEM Center
The University of Houston is in a unique position to have a much larger and much more integrated impact on STEM education. The State of Texas already has a strong STEM workforce demand and could attract more businesses and research centers if the workforce supply were available. UH is located in a STEM rich employment environment: NASA, multiple industries, and world class research institutions. UH is a Carnegie-designated Tier One Public Research University which can be leveraged for increased STEM enrollment, additional faculty, and higher academic entry standards. UH is located in the middle of the largest school district in the state of Texas (over 200,000 students), and the seventh largest in the nation. There are opportunities to have major impacts and provide solutions on STEM inspiration, recruitment and graduation rates in the local K-12 pipeline. Because of the diversity of the city, the school districts, and the campus, UH could be the source of a diverse STEM workforce not only for Texas, but also for many companies in the nation.
The STEM Center will work to develop collaborations with Informal Science Education programs at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Space Center Houston, and the NASA JSC Texas Aerospace Scholars Program, and STEM programs with Texas Medical Center institutions.