STEM as Workforce Development the Focus for Council Meeting 23

Orbis Project Mentor Joel Fox of the Ankeny Schools shared about their STEM BEST Program at the STEM Advisory Council Meeting.
Orbis Project Mentor Joel Fox of the Ankeny School District presented about their STEM BEST Program at the 23rd STEM Advisory Council meeting.

The STEM Advisory Council held its 23rd convening at the Urban Campus of Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC). Council members joined through a hybrid of in-person and online participation for a robust agenda of Regional STEM Hub Institution recognition, STEM program showcases, advancements on strategic planning and STEM Council course setting.

DMACC President Rob Denson welcomed Council members and Co-Chair Diane Young opened the meeting. STEM Council Executive Director Jeff Weld shared about the critical role of Regional STEM Hub Institutions, followed by the institutional mission from Iowa Lakes Community College Vice President of Administration Robert Leifeld.

Sharing results from their STEM BEST Program, educator and student representatives from Ankeny ORBIS, along with business partner representative Jens Pedersen, Lead Product Development Engineer at Kreg Tool Company, presented their approach to Career-Linked Learning focused on equipping the next generation of creative problem-solvers for college and career readiness.

Amber Fairbanks, Waukee Northwest High School Biology, Human Anatomy and Physiology Teacher, and Rachel Miller, Bondurant-Farrar Middle School Eighth Grade Teacher, shared about their summer experiences at IPTV and Accumold respectively as STEM Teacher Externs and how this enrichment experience has impacted their teaching.

STEM Council working groups provided updates on their progress towards objectives set forth for the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in STEM Committee, Creativity and Innovation Task Force and the Career Guidance and Implementation Committee.

University Northern Iowa Center for Social and Behavioral Research Assistant Director Erin Heiden gave insights on key findings and trends that will be available in the 2020-2021 Annual STEM Assessment Report. Other inter-university assessment consortium representatives from Iowa State University’s Research Institute for Studies in Education (RISE) and The University of Iowa were also present at the meeting.

During a breakout session, participants brainstormed how to make current programs more effective and shared new ideas for building tomorrow’s STEM workforce.

Senator Liz Mathis closed the meeting with reflections of the importance of STEM education in preparing students for the future.

For more information about the STEM Advisory Council, visit

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