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Monday, February 8, 2021
From Whirlpool’s decade long support of FIRST Robotics to Muskegon Community College’s unique Makerspace, Michigan’s private sector and academic leaders are investing in programs and partnerships to fill a STEAM pipeline for decades to come.
STEAM education and training is the crux of advancing innovation and maintaining a lead in the global economy – and colleges and companies in Michigan are pooling their resources to upskill today’s workers and cultivate talent for years down the line.
STEAM jobs are becoming an increasingly in-demand segment of the workforce every day and are expected to grow exponentially over the next few years as a cornerstone of Michigan’s economy. To meet immediate workforce needs, academic institutions are embracing innovative approaches to support their students and community members alike. Colleges and universities around the state are developing innovative Makerspaces where the community can gather and foster creativity and idea sharing, with the Monroe County Community College and Ferris State University Makerspaces supporting COVID-19 relief efforts in 2020.
Throughout the state, this creative approach to encouraging innovation is spreading, with more than 20 Michigan universities and colleges hosting and creating Makerspaces, providing dedicated spaces to help entrepreneurs invent and make their ideas a reality. This includes the Lakeshore Fab Lab through Muskegon Community College which houses more than a half-million dollars’ worth of equipment in a space where inventors can invent, businesses can prototype, and children can learn and gain hands on experience with STEM-based projects.
Michigan colleges and companies are also increasing awareness among youth of STEAM and its career opportunities. In the U.P. the Tomorrow’s Talent Series is a collaborative effort among Michigan Works!, Michigan Tech, the MiSTEM Network, Gogebic Community College, Bay College, and Career and Technical Education to inform young residents of the many opportunities available to them in the Upper Peninsula. The series brings together local organizations and community colleges to facilitate the series with virtual job shadowing videos that show you what key careers are really like. It provides a behind-the-scenes look at some of the most in-demand jobs in fields like manufacturing, business, health sciences and more, while highlighting individual employers across the U.P. with a live Q&A from industry leaders.
Meanwhile, companies across a variety of industries are also working to support a pipeline of STEAM talent from younger generations, with the Ford STEAM Experience inspiring the next generation of inventors and mobility makers with a range programs and activities and Whirlpool engaging students in Southwest Michigan through its decadelong support of FIRST robotics.
Advancing STEAM is inextricably linked to Michigan’s commitment to building a more equitable economy, starting at the youngest years when both real and perceived access to certain career paths is formed. Ypsilanti STEMM Middle College, which educates a 70% underserved student body, implemented STEM-centric education and saw a jump in daily attendance from 84% to 92% and graduation from 69% to 97%.
Likewise, Qualcomm and the University of Michigan have partnered on The Qualcomm® Thinkabit Lab™ to provide youth in the Detroit and Southeast Michigan area with a unique, hands-on experience in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) raising awareness of careers they may not know exist.
The state of Michigan continues to seek innovative ways to enhance STEAM education and training throughout the state. Through the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity’s MiSTEM Network, Michigan is also bringing together education, business and community partners across the state to create meaningful pathways for all students to consider and pursue STEAM careers. The initiative offers opportunities around the state, including the MiSTEM Advisory Council Grants to support opportunities for increased student engagement and achievement through K-12 STEM programs, as well as new programs to help upskill the workforce around STEM-based careers.
Through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Jobs Ready Michigan program, companies can also receive grants to help address the costs associated with recruiting and training individuals for occupations that are high-wage, high-skill or high-demand, including STEAM positions.
Interested in learning more? Go to michiganbusiness.org/why-Michigan to find more state resources.
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