The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) granted 14 awards worth approximately $1 million to Texas universities and community colleges for them to invest in summer youth camps featuring science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The idea of funding STEM-related camps, which the TWC believes will draw in nearly 1,000 youngsters to participate, is to prepare students between 14 and 21 years old for a high-skill job in an increasingly competitive, demanding labor market.
The grants, which are given directly by the TWC, are included in the Governor’s Summer Merit Program and are committed to inspiring Texas youth to pursue STEM-related careers. “These camps allow students to explore STEM disciplines outside the classroom while showing them the possibilities of a career in those fields,” Governor Rick Perry said.
“TWC is pleased to partner with these outstanding universities and community colleges to offer Texas students opportunities to explore high-demand STEM disciplines,” said TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar. “The Governor’s Summer Merit Program is a statewide effort to expose students to the vast array of careers that require science, technology, engineering, and math skills.”
“The Texas economy is becoming more and more technologically advanced, and our continuing success depends on the skills these bright young scientists and engineers will bring to the workforce,” the Governor added. During the summer camps, the attendees will be able to advance their knowledge in one of six industry clusters, which include advanced technologies and manufacturing, aerospace and defense, biotechnology and life sciences, information and computer technology, petroleum refining and chemical products, and energy.
Students will also be able to interact with high-tech novel equipment that otherwise might be inaccessible to younger students — such as 3D printers and electron telescopes — during field trips in which some of the campers will participate. Other students will have the opportunity to participate in visits to science and engineering facilities, which will include conversations with experts working in STEM fields.
“The young people who receive scholarships for these camps will be exposed to a vast array of opportunities in the STEM fields and will discover possibilities their education may enable them to obtain once they leave the classroom and embark on their lives as professionals,” explained Ronny Congleton, the TWC Commissioner Representing Labor.
Some of the camps are also committed to the encouragement of young women and minorities to pursue further education and careers in the STEM fields. “It is wonderful to see these institutions of higher education reaching out to young women,” said Hope Andrade, the TWC Commissioner Representing Employers. “It is very exciting for the future of Texas to have young men and women interested in STEM.”
The facilities awarded with the TWC grants are the Alamo Colleges of the San Antonio College, the El Paso Community College District, the Houston Community College System, the Lamar University, the Mountain View College, the Tarleton State University, the Texas A&M University Engineering Experiment Station, the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX)-College Station, The University of Texas at Austin, the University of Texas at San Antonio, the University of Houston-Clear Lake, the University of Texas at El Paso, the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, and Rice University.