Indianapolis Mayor Says IUPUI STEM Efforts Are Critical to Indiana Economy

Release Date: 
May 8 2013

Mayor Ballard

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard on Tuesday praised the efforts at IUPUI to improve education initiatives in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields as “absolutely critical” to the long-term economic future of Indiana.

“There is such a tremendous opportunity (at IUPUI) for so many STEM students, and that leads into the continuing dialogue about growing the Indiana workforce,” Ballard said. “What you’ve done here is rather dramatic. You’re really making an impact on Indianapolis.”

Ballard, along with Deputy Mayor for Education Jason Kloth and Employ Indy President and CEO Brooke Huntington, visited the School of Science at IUPUI Tuesday to celebrate the success of the Central Indiana STEM Talent Expansion Program (CI-STEP), an initiative that has increased the number of STEM graduates at IUPUI by 25 percent during the past three years.

While on campus, Ballard also learned of the new Science and Engineering Laboratory Building, a facility under construction that will house additional classrooms and teaching laboratories. He also visited with Science students working in laboratories in the Departments of Physics and Biology. 
The city has increased its focus on STEM education in recent years as the life-health sciences industries across Indiana have grown in prominence. Ballard referenced the first-ever robotics competition hosted in Indianapolis last year—which he said led to 30 additional Indianapolis high schools beginning robotics programs—as an example of the potential of broad support in STEM disciplines.

“We need to get serious about STEM education. Our workforce absolutely calls for it,” he added.

The CI-STEP program was established in 2008 with the help of a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation. By establishing mentor networks and specific initiatives to support students and future teachers in STEM disciplines, the programs seeks to develop a pipeline of STEM graduates and support them from pre-college through employment.

The program involves the coordinated efforts of 17 departments in the School of Science and the School of Engineering & Technology at IUPUI as well as Ivy Tech Community College, Indianapolis. In 2008, 417 IUPUI students graduated from STEM disciplines; three years later that number had grown to 524.

“IUPUI is quickly becoming a national leader in methods to increase the number of STEM graduates,” said Jeff Watt, associate dean for academic affairs and outreach at the School of Science.

Dean Simon Rhodes added: “We are offering a quantitative solution to the shortage of STEM graduates in our state. Ninety percent of our students come from Indiana and 90 percent of our graduates stay and work in Indiana.”

Learn more about CI-STEP.