They are Regional STEM Managers for the STEM Council. Yet, their title does not do justice in explaining or honoring the dozens of hats that each of them wear in their respective STEM regions. To their local constituents, they might have been an archaeologist working with students for a day (see picture), a traveler from school district to school district promoting STEM, an adviser helping teachers align resources with the Iowa STEM initiative or an event planner bringing a family STEM festival to the community. In fact they are all of the above and more on any given day.
If there were a typical day in the life of a regional STEM manager, it might start out with handling official paperwork. From grant agreements and financial statements to data analysis broken down by communities, a regional STEM manager keeps the business handled and ensures with utmost transparency that funds received from both public and private sources reach the areas in their regions with the highest need.
Next, they are likely to make a road trip out to a school, a Rotary Club, an AEA or a prospective business partner. One manager estimated about five hours per week are spent in the car visiting approximately 16 different cities a month. They travel to school districts to see the STEM Scale-Up Programs in action, they attend AEA meetings with superintendents to stay tuned in to the educational challenges and opportunities across the state and they participate in STEM Scale-Up professional development trainings to assist and answer questions from educators – to name just a few destinations.
Back to their Hub Institutions, regional STEM managers invest considerable time in preparing family STEM festivals. These events take months of coordinated planning efforts between the regional STEM manager, a venue, volunteers, a community and its local businesses and organizations to cater to the needs of that community and showcase STEM careers and opportunities to families attending.
Regional STEM managers also convene regional STEM advisory boards monthly and prepare by gathering communication materials, strategizing agendas and budget items and showcasing partner contributions to STEM. The regional STEM managers use these meetings to keep their advisory board members updated and equipped with the materials needed to share the Iowa STEM story throughout the region.
Though no day is typical and many hats must fit these talented servants, one overarching goal remains the same – to serve as the STEM Council’s eyes, ears, voice and hands in their assigned region, ensuring that all Iowans have equal access and opportunity to outstanding STEM programming offered through the STEM Council. Only through Iowa’s acclaimed network of regional STEM managers can the reach of STEM expand to all corners of the state in both rural and urban communities, inspiring the next generation of Iowa’s STEM-talented workforce.
To learn more about each region and its regional STEM manager, visit www.IowaSTEM.gov/regions.