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STEM Student Program Expands in Northern Virginia

SySTEMic program has its roots in Manassas Park.

A science program born in the is growing and spreading its arms to other Northern Virginia Schools.

A $1 million grant from the Virginia General Assembly is funding the expansion of Northern Virginia Community College’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) initiative.

NOVA officials plan first to expand the program, called SySTEMic Solutions, into Loudoun County schools, but then extend into the Fairfax County, Alexandria and Arlington, according to a press release from the college.

SySTEMic is a collaboration among employers, colleges and universities and secondary education school divisions to have more than 3,000 students preparing for STEM careers by the year 2015.

Through SySTEMic, program administrators and educations work to align secondary and college-level curriculum and programs so students can have dual enrollment STEM courses.

Students can also participate in science and technology activities and camps as well as internships and jobs in that employment field, NOVA officials said.

Teachers of STEM subjects also benefit through professional opportunities linked to the program.

The model began several years ago in Manassas Park, Manassas and Prince William County school districts through the Pathway to the Baccalaureate college access and student success program.

"We face a critical shortage of scientists, engineers and technicians in Northern Virginia,” said NOVA President Robert G. Templin Jr.

“At NOVA, we are excited to be able to enlarge the pipeline of students preparing to enter college and graduate with STEM degrees. Thus far, we have been able to reach over 1,000 students and we look forward to expanding these activities in school divisions across the region.”

The program’s ultimate goal is to meet the demand for a trained workforce in advanced technologies, according to the release.

Many SySTEMic Solutions enrollees come from moderate or low-income families and likely will be first in their family to consider college, NOVA administrators said.

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