MetroWest STEM Education Network
Based at Framingham State University, the work of the MetroWest STEM Education Network (MSEN – https://www.metroweststem.com/) is informed by the urgency of connecting the dots between the talent acquisition needs of STEM industries in the region and the capacity of K-16 institutions to meet these needs.
MSEN focuses on developing collaborations based on the sharing of resources, expertise, and common goals to support member organizations in empowering local students with the confidence and perseverance to pursue STEM-enabled career pathways, while they also recognize the value of their voice and agency in their communities. This is a critical element to address important issues in our communities, such as environmental sustainability and justice that are becoming increasingly complex and interdependent.
MSEN supports the priorities identified by the Massachusetts Governor’s STEM Advisory Council (https://www.mass.gov/the-stem-advisory-council): Ensure that all students develop foundational skills in STEM subjects throughout their PK-12 experience; Increase awareness and interest in STEM careers and develop high-quality, integrated STEM pathways from secondary school to college; Deepen partnerships among employers, vocational-technical schools, community colleges, universities, and adult education providers to promote career opportunities in STEM fields.
MSEN’s project-based virtual team mentorship program is an example of our ecosystem approach. The team mentorship develops motivation, confidence and multi-disciplinary skills in all students, and particularly those whose talent has long been overlooked or neglected due to lack of access to resources and lack of an effective pro-social and culturally relevant learning infrastructure. The program introduces students to real-world challenges while providing the training, incentives, resources and ongoing supports high school students need to apply new knowledge and tools, including the engineering design process, scientific inquiry and project management. MSEN measures the quantitative and qualitative impact of the mentorship program and communicates findings regularly to collaborating partners, advisors and community stakeholders in the region and state.