Community College Times Highlights Regional STEM Network

In November, Community College Times featured Onondaga Community College as one of several partners in the Central New York regional STEM hub. The hub interconnects higher education, community organizations and K-12 schools and develops science, technology, engineering, and math educational models at the elementary, secondary and postsecondary levels. The article said:

"Onondaga Community College (OCC) is one of several partners in the Central New York regional STEM hub, which was launched in October by the Empire State STEM Learning Network. The hub interconnects higher education, community organizations and K-12 schools and develops STEM educational models at the elementary, secondary and postsecondary levels.

The goal is to bring business, industry and education together to promote inquiry-based learning and career awareness, said Emmanuel Awuah, interim vice president for academic services at OCC. When students take a chemistry course, for example, they could take part in a hands-on activity at a pharmaceutical company.

The new initiative builds on several STEM-related partnerships OCC already has with K-12 schools. The college brings in K-12 educators to let them see the science, math and technology opportunities at OCC, and it hosts a regional science and engineering fair for grades 9-12. About 100 students from area high schools participate in OCC’s Tech Prep program, which allows them to take college-level STEM courses—and earn college credit—while still in high school.

Several programs at OCC are targeted at underrepresented minorities and economically disadvantaged students. Those include the state C-STEP initiative (Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program), which provides academic support, mentoring, transfer assistance, counseling and summer internships to OCC students interested in STEM careers. The college is also one of seven higher education institutions in the Upstate Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, an NSF initiative aimed at increasing the recruitment and college success rates of minority students in STEM fields.

OCC also hosts a five-week summer program for students in grades 4-10 called College for Kids. The programs focuses on STEM-related games, which helps them “understand the significance of the science and math they learn in school,” Awuah said. His own daughter was inspired by what she learned in that camp, he noted, and is now pursuing a career in neuroscience."

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