Norwin considers proposal for STEM center at North Huntingdon campus
Norwin School District administrators announced on Monday a proposal for Norwin STEM Innovation Center, a state-of-the-art learning and conference facility at the district's North Huntingdon campus.
Work done in the building would focus on STEM — the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Having the building would allow students to prepare for the high-technology jobs of the future, according to a district news release. The facility would serve as a professional development center for K-12 educators at Norwin and across the region through a partnership with a Pittsburgh STEM education nonprofit.
“It is unique. It is different. It is innovative. I believe ... it is the future,” district Superintendent William Kerr said about the center.
Kerr said in an email that he is not aware of any other K-12 district in the state doing what Norwin is proposing.
STEM education has never been more important than now, Kerr said.
Officials anticipate that the building can be built without tax dollars. Instead, the proposal relies heavily on business-education partnerships.
To ensure that the cost burden would not fall to taxpayers, the district would not commit to financing the project until sufficient funding has been secured, according to a district news release.
The center would be financed and built after a process of identifying business-education tenants that are committed to leasing space on a long-term basis, as well as seeking funds through the state capital improvement program, grants, foundations and alumni. Naming rights will be considered, as well as sectional pods or learning labs within the facility.
That model, according to the district, would provide opportunities for STEM-related business and industry investors, nonprofit organizations, private entities and higher education agencies to offer on-campus instruction, mentorships, internships, cooperative learning experiences and work-study programs for Norwin students.
The center would complement a student's traditional school work at Norwin, Kerr said in an email.
The district said it has established working relationships with ASSET STEM Education and with the Air Force Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC).
ASSET STEM Education has expressed an interest in establishing a satellite site at Norwin's campus, according to the district. ASSET (Achieving Student Success through Excellence in Teaching) STEM is a national nonprofit, with an office in Pittsburgh, focused on improving STEM education.
The JROTC program could be offered to high school students as soon as 2014. Part of the program would focus on aerospace science.
The country is facing a “STEM crisis” in education, training and workforce development, according to a district news release. Many high-technology jobs are projected in the future, but there are not enough scientifically and technologically skilled workers to fill them.
The Norwin STEM Innovation Center would offer an answer to that problem, according to the district.
Career areas to be taught at the center may include manufacturing technology, health care, education, biomedical, bioscience and medical technology, pharmacy, dentistry, renewable and clean energy, environmental sciences, aviation and aerospace, and information technology.
Officials said they envision scientists and engineers working with and tutoring freshmen and sophomores through projects, and juniors and seniors participating in internships with STEM experts.
Exactly how a day in the life of a student would look is still a work in progress, Kerr said.
The district intends to collaborate with — not compete with — the Central Westmoreland Career and Technology Center, as well as Westmoreland County Community College. Students will continue to have to opportunity to enroll in an industry-based program at the career and technology center.
Kerr asked the school board to authorize a feasibility study to determine whether building the center is the proper next step for the district.
The school board will consider authorizing the administration to identify STEM-related businesses and industries that would be interested in participating.
Rossilynne Skena is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6646 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Mental health facility won’t take Franklin Regional stabbing suspect as patient
- Fundraising under way for Indiana County newborn struck by stray bullet
- Somerset County man arrested after loaded gun found at Baltimore airport
- Police: Jeannette woman tried to steal family’s safe
- Attorney seeks dismissal of charge in Salem wreck that killed mother, unborn child
- Greensburg artist follows unusual path to creative career
- Thousands attend Mt. Pleasant Glass and Ethnic Festival
- Hribal will be transferred to Allegheny County psychiatric facility
- No relief in sight for Westmoreland transit passengers
- 3 confirmed cases of MRSA in Ligonier school district
- Motorcyclist hospitalized after Derry Twp. crash