Georgia Tech Partners with Economic Developers, Educators and Employers in Southwest Georgia

The ongoing development of knowledge and skills related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is crucial for competing in the global economy and requires collaboration among educators, employers and economic developers. To help support this collaboration, Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2) and partners have launched an innovative program in southwest Georgia to encourage students in their understanding and appreciation of STEM and related fields.

In partnership with Albany Technical College and the Southwest Georgia Agribusiness Consortium, this effort is working to support the future workforce development needs of biotechnology and agribusiness companies through Georgia’s Career Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) program.

“STEM and CTAE compliment each other by providing the mechanism to solve real world real problems,” said Patricia Jackson, CTAE Director-Dougherty County. “In the area of agriculture alone, STEM components are enhanced and made relevant through growing fish in the aquaculture lab, greenhouse management, landscape design, maintenance and management. It is like CTAE was waiting for STEM to happen!”

During the first four months of 2010, EI2 coordinated a number of supportive activities, including a collaborative web-based SharePoint site to facilitate information sharing, the 2010 Young Engineers’ Day Engineering Challenge, plant tours to agricultural research and food processing centers and STEM community outreach efforts. Hortense Jackson of Georgia Tech’s EI2 serves as director for the project.

The effort is part of a broader initiative for Southwest Georgia to become a designated “Georgia Work Ready” region, sponsored by the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development. Successful regions are able to create industry-driven regional solutions to improve the high school graduation rate, engage at-risk and out-of-school youth, support high school and middle school career coaches, retrain dislocated workers, increase post-secondary graduation rates and upgrade the skills of the existing workforce. The regional initiative is comprised of a consortium of 15 counties – Baker, Calhoun, Clay, Decatur, Dougherty, Early, Grady, Lee, Mitchell, Miller, Quitman, Randolph, Seminole, Terrell and Thomas – that are each working toward the “Georgia Work Ready” designation by improving the talent pool for the region’s agribusiness and biotechnology industries.

“The ongoing development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills is important for businesses to successfully compete,” said Hortense Jackson, project director at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. “We are excited about supporting this effort among educators, employers and economic developers as they work to expose their students to the needs of industry and excite their interest in areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

About Enterprise Innovation Institute:

The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers and communities improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. It is one of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation.

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Writer: Nancy Fullbright