Norwin committee explores STEM ideas

| Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

The job market of the future is likely to include new positions, such as clone ranchers and energy harvesters.

A high-tech building Norwin School District officials said they hope to bring to campus should be set up to prepare students for these jobs, and many more.

A steering committee for the proposed STEM Innovation Center met Friday morning to toss around ideas for the necessary space and equipment at the center. A feasibility study is underway and should be complete by the end of the year, officials said.

“Norwin has a unique opportunity to build a skilled workforce and play an important role in the region's economic recovery and its future growth,” said district Superintendent William Kerr.

More than 50 people, including representatives from the offices of Gov. Tom Corbett and Sen. Kim Ward, attended the meeting.

Others in attendance represented professionals in businesses including aerospace science, DNA health, geosciences and defense manufacturing.

Many representatives said they are interested in giving students hands-on learning opportunities and changing a cookie-cutter approach to education.

Officials noted the center should train students for future jobs.

Those future jobs could be as a chef-farmer, clone rancher, digital archaeologist, drone dispatcher, energy harvester, global system architect, holodeck trainer, mobile biomass therapist, personal brand manager, smart car interior advertisement sales representative, space junk hauler, transhumanist consultant and robotician.

School directors last month selected Hayes Large Architects to complete the feasibility study. Administrators hope the center, which will focus on the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math, will allow district students to pair with experts in the field.

Officials are investigating funding for the project.

A formal grant application for $2.5 million has been submitted to a yet unnamed foundation in partnership with Penn State Greater Allegheny.

That grant would serve as matching funds for a state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program request for the same amount.

Other steering committee meetings to discuss programming, design, function and form are scheduled for October and November.

A final design is expected to be completed by Dec. 31.

Amanda Dolasinski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626.

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