The Great Lakes Bay Region is driven by a STEM-focused economy. The region is home to several large STEM-aligned employers, with a particularly heavy emphasis on manufacturing and healthcare. Roughly 38 percent of the region’s economic output is driven by those two industries alone. This long-running tradition in both science and manufacturing positions the Great Lakes Bay Region favorably in the pursuit of STEM excellence. We harness the full continuum of learning, education and development, and very few areas of the nation offer the fertile soil for STEM opportunities that can be found here.
The Great Lakes Bay Region has an opportunity to further this leadership by advancing the pipeline of STEM talent, which in turn, drives regional prosperity. Developing STEM talent helps to both propel existing businesses and attract new organizations that need this in-demand skill set. Creating and training the workforce of tomorrow requires collaboration among employers, educators and many other stakeholders all dedicated to the alignment and needs of next-generation talent. Such region-wide, cross-functional cooperation is virtually unheard of around the country, and allows the Great Lakes Bay Region to shape our future.
REGIONAL STEM NETWORK
Our work in developing and growing the regional STEM network evolved from the work of several stakeholders across the education and business communities over several years. In 2014, this group gave recommendations for why STEM was critical for moving the region forward. One key conclusion of the 2014 STEM Impact Initiative Study was that the Great Lakes Bay Region’s STEM talent pipeline focus on four important characteristics. To be successful, the study said, STEM programming should be:
• Driven by Employer Demand
• Powered by Career-Ready and College-Ready Students
• Focused on Strengthening Technical Skills Needed for the Economy
• Sustained by a Culture of STEM
In order to make that happen, the study recommended creation of several regional networks, each with a specific focus, each bringing together people from the business, education and public service sectors. There are three networks in the region, driving improvement in STEM opportunities linked to the four characteristics identified in the study.
MICAREERQUEST MIDDLE MICHIGAN
Employers are learning about opportunities to bring heavy equipment, simulators, tools, and hands-on exhibits to new career exploration resources for area middle and high schoolers.
Called MiCareerQuest Middle Michigan, the effort supports learning, skills development and career requirements across an 11-county area including Arenac, Bay, Clare, Gladwin, Gratiot, Isabella, Iosco, Midland, Ogemaw, Roscommon and Saginaw.
Great Lakes Bay Michigan Works! and Michigan Works! 7B collaborate to create dynamic and local learning events through MiCareerQuest Middle Michigan with the help of numerous employers. The goal is to create an experience unlike any other career and college-readiness with in person and virtual resources offering interactive, hands-on, informational and inspiring career opportunities for students from working professionals in high-demand industries.
Learn more about MiCareerQuest Middle Michigan here.
Students engaging in hands-on exploration of careers at the first MiCareerQuest Middle Michigan event at Saginaw Valley State University.
REGIONAL STEM PASSPORT COMBATS EQUITY ISSUES
Harnessing the power of the region's assets that exist for learning opportunities beyond the classroom, the STEM Passport was developed to help children explore science, technology, engineering and math opportunities at several local (and virtual) destinations.
Over 34,000 students in the region benefitted from the first Early Childhood STEM Passports distributed in eight counties (Arenac, Bay, Clare, Gladwin, Gratiot, Isabella, Midland, and Saginaw). As part of the GLBR STEM Impact Initiative and national STEM Learning Ecosystems project, the Alliance is focused on STEM learning quality and opportunities both in-school and out-of-school.
An “Out-of-School Time STEM Network” comprised of before and after school programs, community-based STEM programs, and STEM-rich institutions (i.e., museums, zoo, planetarium, arts and cultural centers, etc.) meets regularly to connect and align resources, while fostering a culture of STEM for our region.
Some of the Great Lakes Bay Region’s youngest learners experiencing the Little Stemmers Program at the Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum.
Recognizing that some children do not have equal access to STEM assets, the Out-of-School Time Network convened a STEM Access/Equity Committee to identify and implement strategies to mitigate access & equity issues. The idea of a STEM Passport began after attending the U.S. News & World Report STEM Conference in the spring of 2017. Melisse May and Mary Adams of the Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative shared the passport concept with Matthew Felan, President and CEO of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance, and the local committee felt a STEM Passport could increase awareness and reduce financial barriers related to accessing our regional STEM-rich institutions and programs.
FUNDING IS KEY
The job is not done, however. The initiative continues to explore opportunities to build on the region’s STEM strength, and seizing some opportunities will depend on finding the needed funding.
Another important form of support comes from individuals and organizations that contribute time, talent and passion to STEM efforts. The local chapter of the American Chemical Society, for instance, has about 650 members who serve Midland, Bay, Saginaw, Gratiot, and Isabella counties. These scientific professionals, teachers, and others interested in science, technology, engineering, and math take part in a range of community outreach activities. Similarly, the region’s chapter of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers is active in STEM support, including hosting an annual Science Bowl that quizzes students on their knowledge and rewards their achievements.
Employees from several local companies also work with students and educators in a variety of ways that allow them to share their passion and insight with future generations.