Niagara Gazette — The world has changed, especially in Niagara Falls. What once was an industrial hub with factories building products and cutting-edge power plants harnessing hydropower, a shift in educational priorities has taken students out of the assembly line and into more artistic pursuits.
National Grid, Niagara University and the Niagara Falls City School District are teaming up in a $60,000 initiative to bring educational value back to the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Or as it's more commonly referred to now, STEM.
"There is a real crisis evolving in our national education system, including here in Western New York as our children's awareness is low with respect to the applied nature of STEM, leaving them unprepared for the future job market that is demanding these professional skills, Dennis Eisenbeck, regional executive for National Grid, said.
National Grid's financial commitment will allow 45 Niagara Falls teachers to study more effective and efficient means of educating in the more technical subjects through a graduate level program at Niagara University. The teachers will each receive 45 hours of instruction and in-class training and will receive a certificate upon completion.
While this is going on, the university is also holding a pair of summer camps for 300 Western New York students in grades three through nine, providing an opportunity to further enhance their understanding and comprehension of the disciplines. One for students in grades three through eight will challenge students from July 22-25 with a focus on solar, wind and hydroelectric energy.
The second will be exclusively for girls grades seven through nine, exploring alternate energy, conservation and preparing energy audits from July 29 to Aug. 1.
It's a push to keep students in Western New York after graduation by providing them skills for career openings already here. It's called a skills gap, and Eisenbeck said it needs to be filled because companies, like National Grid, have openings with no one to fill them.