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Virginia Tech and Virginia STEAM Academy form strategic partnership to meet critical education needs


BLACKSBURG, Va., July 31, 2012 – Virginia Tech and the Virginia Science Technology Engineering and Applied Mathematics (STEAM) Academy are forming a strategic partnership to address critical STEAM education needs in the Commonwealth of Virginia that will accelerate learning for highly able students and attract more to STEAM-related disciplines early in their school careers.

Leaders at the university and academy recently signed a memorandum of understanding, designed to promote a sharing of resources, ideas, and human capital. More specifically, the university and academy will pursue grants to benefit and advance STEAM learning by developing curriculum and professional development opportunities for students and teachers. In addition, Virginia Tech will provide mentors for academy students, sabbatical opportunities for academy faculty, and teachers in training who will conduct their clinical studies at the academy. The academy will work to provide highly-able students to the university to participate in STEAM research.

The Virginia STEAM Academy, a new endeavor, will be a public, residential (boarding) school for approximately 1,000 high school students in grades nine to 12. Students will be drawn from across the commonwealth. The first class is scheduled to begin in 2014.

The partnership forms as the commonwealth faces a large deficit of STEAM-educated workers. A 2010 Georgetown University study found that by 2018, Virginia will need to fill more than 400,000 STEAM-related jobs, while the country will confront a shortage of 3 million STEAM-educated college graduates.

“The focus of the academy – science, technology, engineering, and applied mathematics – is the core of Virginia Tech’s strength and innovation,” said Daniel Wubah, vice president for undergraduate education and deputy provost. “Virginia Tech looks to provide the academy with its world-class resources and looks to gain highly qualified and motivated students interested in pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees in STEAM-related fields.”

“Virginia Tech is one of the state’s top producers of graduates with STEAM-related degrees, and we are excited that this memorandum is the academy’s first formal agreement with a state institution of higher learning,” said Caroline Martin and Judy Stewart, co-founders of the Virginia STEAM Academy. “The academy will help close the anticipated gap in available jobs and qualified candidates. Associations like this one with Virginia Tech are critical to give our students access to faculty mentors, developing technology, and compelling curricula.”

The academy will also hold a summer residential academy for middle school students starting in 2013. Additionally, the academy will host professional development opportunities for kindergarten through 12th grade teachers and administrators and digital on-demand classroom instruction for middle and high school students across Virginia.

Academy leaders have identified Fort Monroe in Hampton, Va., as a potential location for the school and are participating in Fort Monroe Authority’s master plan process. The site sits within a corridor of federal, state, and privately-owned STEAM-related businesses, scientific research and development centers, and colleges and universities.

The Virginia STEAM Academy recently received a $200,000 planning grant from the General Assembly. A consortium leadership team, comprised of key constituents across the commonwealth, is spearheading the academy’s plans, design, implementation, and governance.

The Division of Undergraduate Education provides academic support, programs, and courses that touch on every aspect of the undergraduate experience, from recruitment to graduation and beyond. Its offices, units, and centers advocate for ways to create and nurture a vibrant and diverse community of engaged learners, while supporting the development of innovative and dynamic faculty. The division is committed to excellence in student access, retention, and success for the university’s 24,000 undergraduate students.