The UA STEM Learning Center: Improving Lives in Arizona

Martha Ostheimer and Shipherd Reed
March 18, 2013

Arizona and the nation must mobilize to improve our education system, especially in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math, otherwise known as the STEM fields. 

And it begins with STEM education.   

Quality STEM education will provide our students with the core skills they will need be successful as members of the 21century American workforce, keeping the nation competitive in the global marketplace. 

With the UA STEM Learning Center, we are charting a new course, a path that will build access and excellence in STEM education.

We will start in Southern Arizona and expand throughout the state, providing a model for other states to follow. We will lead the way in economic development, incubate new businesses and attract companies from outside the state. When we expand our STEM education pipeline, we'll be building prosperity, prosperity that will benefit everyone in Arizona.

How will we do it?

We will break through traditional boundaries and build relationships across organizations. We will bring together UA educators and individuals representing business, government, nonprofits and community organizations. Think of it as a collaborative STEM education "ecosystem" where everyone understands the challenges and the opportunities, and we all work together to achieve our shared vision of a highly educated STEM workforce and an innovative knowledge economy.

What the STEM Learning Center achieves will be part of a wider effort, both at the UA and across the country.

With the bold leadership of UA President Ann Weaver Hart, we have a targeted strategic plan that will transform the UA into a new model of land-grant institution and will push collaboration across traditional institutional boundaries.

At the same time, the STEM Learning Center will become an important part of President Barack Obama's "100Kin10," a national initiative to train 100,000 new STEM teachers in 10 years.  That is a big challenge, and it's vitally important for our future. 

With the UA STEM Learning Center, we will meet that challenge. We'll build on STEM teacher training and retention programs that already work and ramp up to a robust, coordinated effort that has support from all the stakeholders.

The center will focus on four priorities:

  • Build partnerships between the community and the University
  • Expand STEM teacher recruitment, preparation, retention and professional development
  • Support pre-kindergarten to college STEM education pathways
  • Conduct STEM education research and evaluation

Working together, we can build a new STEM education ecosystem that cultivates talent right here in Arizona, keeps our young innovators and knowledge workforce in Arizona after they graduate, helps our existing industries expand, and grows our 21st century knowledge economy.  Economic growth benefits all of us, and it starts with education. 

Photo credit: Patrick McArdle/UANews

The public launch of the UA STEM Learning Center will be held April 12, 4-6 p.m., at the UA Flandrau Science Center. To join efforts with the center, please contact Martha Ostheimer, the assistant director, at 520-621-9921 or


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