UH-West Oahu Wins Funds For Sci­ence Work­force Train­ing

MidWeek Islander (West Oahu) - - West Oahu Islander - By PAIGE TAKEYA

The push for a 21stcen­tury work­force continues, and Univer­sity of Hawaii- West Oahu is de­ter­mined to be at the front of the pack.

UHWO has re­ceived a $245,000 grant from the Of­fice of Naval Re­search to cre­ate a STEM Cen­ter of Ex­cel­lence on its Kapolei cam­pus.

STEM (sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing, math­e­mat­ics) ed­u­ca­tion has been an area of na­tional fo­cus in re­cent years, in re­sponse to the grow­ing need for a work­force qual­i­fied to take on high-tech jobs. UHWO thus be­lieves that fo­cus­ing on STEM is a per­fect fit for its cam­pus.

“As a com­pre­hen­sive bac­calau­re­ate de­gree-grant­ing in­sti­tu­tion, UH-West Oahu needs to pro­vide STEM-re­lated pro­gram- ming so stu­dents who choose to at­tend our school have suf­fi­cient cour­ses and aca­demic pro­grams to pre­pare them for rel­e­vant jobs in to­day’s chang­ing world,” said Sherry Proper, di­rec­tor of strate­gic ini­tia­tives and prin­ci­pal in­ves­ti­ga­tor for UHWO.

UHWO en­vi­sions the project as a long-term, on­go­ing ini­tia­tive and will be­gin by us­ing the grant money to ren­o­vate its ex­ist­ing phys­i­cal sci­ence lab­o­ra­tory into a more “in­ter­ac­tive” hub for STEM ed­u­ca­tion. Ren­o­va­tions in­clude the ad­di­tion of a STEM-Cen­ter Por­tal dis­play at the en­trance to the lab, which will dis­play real-time in­for­ma­tion about seis­mic ac­tiv­ity, weather, build­ing en­ergy us­age and at­mo­spheric pres­sure.

The univer­sity also is look­ing at build­ing a “So­lar Sys­tem Stroll,” a twom­ile walk­ing route around a model of the so­lar sys­tem, as well as an EZH20 Wa­ter Fill­ing Sta­tion that helps elim­i­nate plas­tic bot­tle waste.

But more sig­nif­i­cantly, the cen­ter will help UHWO ex­pand its de­gree op­tions.

Proper noted that sev­eral new and ex­ist­ing pro­grams will be di­rectly in­flu­enced by the pres­ence of the STEM fa­cil­ity.

“We have a very pop­u­lar In­for­ma­tion Se­cu­rity As­sur­ance aca­demic pro­gram that we hope to ex­pand,” she ex­plained. “We also plan to de­velop in­no­va­tive in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary pro­grams, such as Fa­cil­i­ties Man­age­ment, that will build on busi­ness, math, sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy course­work. This new pro­gram will pre­pare our grad­u­ates to man­age com­plex build­ing op­er­a­tions in en­ergy-ef­fi­cient ways.”

Proper added that, with time, the cam­pus even­tu­ally will be able to of­fer pro­gram op­tions that do not ex­ist at any other school in the UH sys­tem. To achieve these goals, she hopes UHWO can part­ner with com­mu­nity mem­bers to in­vest in the cen­ter.

The univer­sity ex­pects to have the ini­tial phases of the STEM Cen­ter up and run­ning by fall 2014.

Orig­i­nal plans called for the STEM Cen­ter to re­side in its own build­ing, but Proper noted that there isn’t fund­ing for that just yet.

“We know that stu­dents have a grow­ing in­ter­est in this area, so hope­fully the mo­men­tum for STEM learn­ing in Hawaii will con­tinue, and a phys­i­cal build­ing to serve our com­mu­nity and the state of Hawaii will one day be a re­al­ity at UH- West Oahu,” she said.

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