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NOVA launches STEM initiative to meet demand for skilled workers

According to “Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements Through 2020” from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, the number of jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) will increase by 32 percent in Virginia by 2020. More than 90 percent of those jobs will require postsecondary education.

Northern Virginia Community College is responding to this demand by creating a collegewide initiative to persuade more students to pursue two- and four-year STEM degrees.

“An urgent need exists to increase the number of STEM graduates to help the Northern Virginia region remain viable competitors in the international knowledge-based marketplace and NOVA’s collegewide STEM initiative answers this challenge,” Manassas Provost Roger Ramsammy said.

In addition to motivating more students to pursue careers in STEM fields, the program aims to enrich student experiences with new curricular and extra-curricular STEM opportunities, enhance STEM curricula through advanced professional development opportunities, improve diversity in NOVA’s STEM enrollment, and promote STEM education through collaboration with the regional community, industries and government agencies.

With funding support from the Virginia Community College System, NOVA plans to invest more than $2.2 million over the next three years in equipment and faculty development to ensure NOVA students receive the most current training. Students in STEM courses will have access to electron scanning microscopes, atomic force microscopes and other cutting-edge technologies. In addition, each of NOVA’s six campuses will designate a flagship STEM program that will receive resources for further development.

“By providing access to innovative technologies and curricula, NOVA will be able to equip our students with the competitive skills they need for satisfying, well-paying careers,” said Ramsammy, who is leading the effort with Melvyn Schiavelli, NOVA’s executive vice president for academic and student services.

Faculty members from various STEM disciplines, representing all NOVA campuses, have been meeting to develop the program and will continue to fine-tune the initiative as the program grows.

Assistant Dean for Sciences Ia Gomez will facilitate the plan’s implementation. “We have a great team and I look forward to working with them to place NOVA at the forefront of STEM education in America,” Gomez said.

To learn more, contact Gomez at igomez@nvcc.edu.

Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.