Girl Scouts of Central Indiana, Girls Inc. focus on STEM

TGirls Inc. recently collaborated with the Girl Scouts of Central Indiana and the IU School of Informatics STARS (Science, Technology and Research Scholars) to learn about virtual reality, video game creation and production, and using Photoshop.

Participants started off in a virtual reality lab. In this room, the girls had an opportunity to build their own virtual world and then navigate someone through it. Next, they moved to the advanced visualization lab. This room had large monitors that broke down the visual aspects of the virtual world. The girls learned about why these screens are needed and how virtual reality worlds are brought together. The last room they visited contained a green screen.

All of the girls posed in front of the green screen and then used Photoshop to place themselves in different scenes from around the world. Through this process, the girls saw how easy it is to manipulate a picture.

“They got to use Photoshop for good and not for bad,” said Adrianne Slash, program support coordinator, Girls Inc.

The girls really enjoyed the last room that they were in. It displayed artwork from video games that IUPUI students had made. The room showed them that they are capable of making games of their own someday.

Preschool Critical for Early Childhood Development — Take Action

POne of the most important steps Indiana can take to improve education and eliminate the achievement gap for low-income and disadvantaged children is to expand publicly-funded preschool opportunities.

Every year, thousands of disadvantaged children arrive in kindergarten classrooms woefully unprepared to learn. Schools struggle to help these kids catch up, but so many fall behind and a destructive cycle of frustration and failure takes stubborn hold of their educational lives. The educational and social costs of student failures, dropouts and being ill-prepared for a career are staggering.

Less than a quarter of Indiana children attend preschool and about one in seven don’t even attend school until the first grade – one of the lowest early education rates in the nation. Only eight states fail to provide at least partial state funding for educational preschool programs. Indiana would be the ninth state but for a very small pilot program created just months ago.

If we want students to graduate high school and be college and career ready, that means starting these students along the proper education road as soon as possible.

Please take a moment to send an email message to your state legislators to support creation of a statewide preschool program. Legislative leaders of both parties have expressed strong support, but they need to know business leaders care. This is a budget-making year in the Indiana General Assembly. Now is the time to act to make an investment in early childhood education in this state.

Eliminating educational achievement gaps – starting with preschool and especially for disadvantaged populations – is one of the goals in the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 economic development action plan.

Minnesota’s New Site Helps Students Make College Pay

minnPeople in powerful positions often have access to the best information.

Minnesota high school students now have the ability to expand their power base. When they are agonizing over technical school and college choices, they can now look at marketplace data that show which academic programs have high placement rates and what recent graduates are being paid.

For the first time in its history, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is making this information available to the public on its website.

The data reveal a pattern of underemployment among recent graduates. For the Class of 2011, among those completing programs ranging from certificates to graduate degrees, by their second year out of school, only 42 percent had full-time jobs that they kept for a whole year.

But the most intriguing statistics are the wage breakouts among academic programs. Here are some of the highlights for the Class of 2011 two years after completing their education:

  • Among students who earned bachelor’s degrees in marketing, 52 percent had full-time jobs and 31 percent were working part-time. The median annual salary for full-time employees was $35,373.
  • Among bachelor’s graduates with general business degrees, the median annual wages for full-time employees were $57,227. In this major, 59 percent were employed full-time and 21 percent were working part-time.
  • Those with special education and teaching degrees at the bachelor’s level had annual median earnings of $35,312.
  • Technical education translated into good-sized paychecks for people who completed certificate programs or associate degrees. For example:
  • Annual median earnings were $44,196 for full-time workers who obtained associate degrees in electromechanical instruments and maintenance technology. In this program area, 60 percent held full-time jobs in their second year out of school.
  • Plumbing program graduates also saw high job placement. Among students who completed certificate programs for plumbing, the annual median earnings for full-time workers were $41,229. Forty-five percent were working full time and 42 percent were employed part time in the second year out of school.

The Minnesota Legislature passed a bill requiring DEED to take the wage and employment data that the state receives from employers and present it to state residents in a format that’s easy to use. Called the “graduate employment outcomes tool,” people can use drop-down menus on the DEED website to look up wage and placement data by academic program.

Check out the site.

Purdue’s 4-H Outreach Expanding to City Youth

RI may be a graduate of Indiana University, but the IU/Purdue rivalry stops at the edge of the basketball court for me. That’s likely for two reasons: (1) I have at least a modicum of perspective, and (2) I’ve written about Purdue in BizVoice enough times to be flat-out impressed by the school’s innovative educational efforts and its dedication to giving students a well-rounded experience.

Additionally, the fact that Purdue has an extension presence in all 92 of our counties is quite remarkable to me. While I’ve written about Purdue’s work to reach rural students in the past, I was somewhat surprised to see how it’s helping 4-H make an impact among Indiana’s urban populations.

Because urban areas tend to not have a strong tradition of 4-H, Purdue Extension is creating new programs in heavily urban Lake, Marion and Allen counties to attract more young people there.

They’re not your typical 4-H clubs.

“These clubs meet after school and are heavily focused on engaging young people in science and helping them understand where food comes from as well as career opportunities in agriculture,” said Renee McKee, program leader of 4-H and youth development at Purdue University.

A nationwide expansion of 4-H into urban communities was made possible through a National 4-H Council funding opportunity that originated from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.  In Indiana, the program is funding three start-up 4-H clubs in each of the three counties.

The effort is a strategic initiative of Indiana 4-H, McKee said. Key to making it work is getting community leaders and volunteers involved to help keep the 4-H clubs going once the grant funding is no longer available.

“The idea of creating urban 4-H clubs is to make them part of the fabric of the community, just as 4-H has done in many rural communities across Indiana,” she said.

Lake County in 2011 was the first of three urban counties in Indiana targeted for 4-H clubs funded this way. Funds initially were used to hire three program assistants who helped with establishing the clubs, planned activities and led meetings. They also work to connect parents and others from the community to volunteer with the club so that the community eventually takes responsibility for leading the programs. Urban clubs in places such as East Chicago and Gary now join the “traditional” clubs, such as those in Crown Point and Lowell where 4-H has been active for years.

“The main difference between when we started and now is that volunteers are taking a larger leadership role, and we have more investment from the local community,” said Julie Jones, 4-H youth development Extension educator in Lake County.

Now that the clubs are established in Lake County with about 100 members, including students of elementary and middle school age, older youth such as high school students are being encouraged to join the county’s 4-H Junior Leaders program and participate in the 4-H Round Up, a three-day workshop for middle school students to explore careers at Purdue in the summer.

Allen County began participating with this effort in 2012.

This year, three new urban clubs are starting in Marion County, all of which have a technology focus called Tech Wizards, an after-school, small-group mentoring program developed at Oregon State University. Tech Wizards work on technology-driven projects such as robotics and videos.

The Marion County clubs are being organized in less traditional places in Indianapolis such as the Felege Hiywot Center, which teaches gardening and environmental preservation to urban youth. 4-H also is working with the Immigrant Welcome Center, a resource for the growing number of immigrants in Indianapolis.

“Many of our opportunities to reach young people are in after-school settings, and there so many issues that impact after-school 4-H,” said Jim Becker, 4-H youth development Extension educator in Marion County. “These issues include transportation, single-parent families, the poverty rate and competition from other youth organizations.”

McKee said the urban initiative shows that 4-H can reach a diverse population statewide.

“Because of this Indiana strategic initiative, we have the ability to serve young people in Indiana regardless of where they live,” McKee said.

Graduation Numbers to be Concerned About

Complete College America and its Alliance of States released their latest report Monday, titled Four-Year Myth. Below are a few numbers, national and Indiana-specific, that explain that title and its consequences.

Nationally

  • At public two-year institutions, 5% of full-time students pursuing associates degrees graduate on time. An extra year costs $15,933 in tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation and other expenses. In addition, students give up approximately $35,000 in lost wages by graduating late. The total cost: $50,933.
  • At public four-year institutions, 19% (non-flagship) and 36% (flagship/very high research) of full-time students graduate on time. An extra year costs $22,826 in tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation and other expenses. In addition, students give up more than $45,000 in lost wages by graduating late. The total cost is over $68,000.
  • Only 50 out of the more than 580 public four-year institutions reviewed have on-time graduation rates at or above 50% for their first-time, full-time students.

Indiana

  • 6% of full-time students pursuing associates degrees at two-year institutions graduate on time. On average, students graduate in four years with 93 credits (rather than the customary 60 credits). Each extra year costs $51,748 in school-related expenses and lost wages.
  • 17% of full-time students at four-year non-flagship institutions graduate on time. On average, students graduate in five years with 143 credits, rather than the customary 120 credits. Each extra year costs $68,176 in school-related expenses and lost wages.
  • 42% of full-time students at four-year flagship/very high research institutions graduate on time. On average, students graduate in 4.4 years with 134 credits, rather than the customary 120 credits. Each extra year costs $68,176 in school-related expenses and lost wages.

According to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, the state has a number of  initiatives underway that support on-time completion, including:

  • Requiring clear semester-by-semester degree maps for every public college student
  • Promoting more proactive college advising practices to keep students on track and intervene as needed
  • Launching a statewide “15 to Finish” campaign to change the long standing perception that taking 12 credits per semester is enough to graduate on time

Report Card Coming for Teacher Prep Efforts

19293579Teacher preparation programs have been the subject of much scrutiny in recent years. It appears Washington agrees with the need for some evaluation and measurement.

Governing reports:

The federal Department of Education announced preliminary rules requiring states to develop rating systems for teacher preparation programs that would track a range of measures, including the job placement and retention rates of graduates and the academic performance of their students.

In a move that drew some criticism, the Education Department said the new rating systems could be used to determine eligibility for certain federal grants used by teacher candidates to help pay for their training.

Critics have long faulted teacher training as inadequately preparing candidates for the realities and rigors of the job.

In a conference call with reporters, Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, said that far too many education programs set lower requirements for entry than other university majors.

“The last thing they want or need is an easy A,” Mr. Duncan said. “This is nothing short of a moral issue. All educators want to do a great job for their students, but too often they struggle at the beginning of their careers and have to figure out too much on the job by themselves.”

The proposed rules will be subject to public comment for 60 days. If they are adopted, states will be given a year to develop the rating systems, with alternative programs like Teach for America also subject to the rules.

AAR, Vincennes Univ. Programs Help Students Get Aviation Careers Airborne

vu 4AAR, an aviation services and products company with 60 global locations — including Indianapolis — and Vincennes University have a partnership that is producing well-trained airline services technicians, mechanics and more.

These organizations held a “Tug and Tour” event at the Vincennes University Aviation Technology Center (ATC) at the Indianapolis International Airport Wednesday. We were able to attend, joined by educators, economic development officials, military veterans and others. The event featured a tour of an aircraft hangar, as well as lunch on a Boeing 737. As Samuel L. Jackson can attest, lunch on a plane is far superior to snakes on a plane (my apologies; I’ll show myself out).

The Programs

The ATC features advanced aviation labs, testing equipment and elaborate maintenance hangars — and class sizes are limited to 25 students.

It was enlightening to learn about the partnership and how well-prepared these students are as they jump from the classroom and hands-on training into well-paying careers. Additionally, AAR offers paid internships to many Vincennes students in the program. VU instructor Ed Briggeman explained the industry is thriving, and that students who complete VU’s Aviation Maintenance program have many opportunities through the school’s myriad partners and connections. Furthermore, the program prepares students for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification and entry-level employment. A certified mechanic can make $50,000 – $55,000 per year, and the program yielded 16 mechanics in July — and by August 15 of them were placed into positions.

Students can also pursue training in aviation flight, which paves the (run)way for careers as pilots and instructors. Unlike most training facilities that can charge $100 per hour, VU doesn’t charge its students to use its flight simulators. And VU’s Indianapolis program features a fleet of well-maintained aircraft (including Cessna 172 and 172RG, as well as multi engine training in a Piper Seminole).

In Indiana, we are blessed to have public and private colleges and universities that rival or exceed those in any other region of the country — and VU is a testament to that. For more on this program or to inquire about viewing the facility, contact Corinna Vonderwell at cvonderwell@vinu.edu.

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Governor Passes on Preschool Opportunity

GPreschool education has become a top priority for the Indiana Chamber and for countless members throughout the state. The prospects for making significant improvements to our state’s educational levels will remain challenging as long as large numbers of children are entering kindergarten unprepared for school. Moreover, those challenges are compounded and are impacting all Indiana students as schools are forced to deal with wide gaps in achievement levels.

Those are just two of the reasons for the preschool emphasis. It is critically important that Indiana join the vast majority of other states in providing funding that will help low-income parents to access their choice of preschool programs that are educationally based and accountable for outcomes.

During the 2014 legislative session, Indiana took a small step in addressing this challenge by approving a $10 million pilot program in five Indiana counties. To be certain, it was a good step forward – driven in large part by the leadership of Gov. Pence and House Republicans. But it fell far short of Indiana’s needs.

Fortunately, an opportunity arose shortly after the session to greatly expand those funds through a federal grant program that would provide $20 million per year for four years. Indeed, Indiana was identified as one of just two states that would receive “priority status” in the grant. Accordingly, staff from the governor’s office, the Department of Education and other preschool advocates began working on the application, which was due for completion this month.

Gov. Pence, however, announced last minute – just as the proposal was being completed and readied for submission – that Indiana would not apply for the funds. He cited concerns about federal intrusion and the desire to implement a program that is best for Hoosiers. But to the frustration of advocates and commentators across the state, he has not yet offered specifics on those concerns.

To be certain, this is a politically charged issue. Even the pilot program would not have happened if the Governor had not ignored pleas to the contrary and appeared, in person, to advocate for the program in the Senate. What ultimately did pass was the result of hard negotiating by the Governor and House Republicans with the Senate.

Yet, it remains disappointing that Gov. Pence chose to take a pass on this new opportunity. If Senate leaders were concerned about funding – as seemed clear in the legislative debates – then this was a unique opportunity to expand Indiana’s program with outside funds. If federal strings were a genuine problem (not just the prospect of a problem), then the specifics of that challenge were not made apparent.

Meanwhile, Indiana is proceeding with its pilot program. The Indiana Chamber is hopeful that the “pilot” aspect of the program will focus strictly on administration matters and not be used by opponents to revisit, yet again, whether preschool is needed and effective. Those questions have been answered. Preschool is a key strategy in the Chamber-led Indiana Vision 2025 plan to help achieve the goal of eliminating achievement gaps. The state must  move farther and do it faster to accomplish the goals and the vision to make Indiana a “global leader in innovation and economic opportunity where enterprises and citizens prosper.”

Preschool thus again becomes a priority issue in the upcoming legislative session. It’s disappointing that Indiana’s foray into this important issue will not be bolstered by the outside financial support that was made available – and that any additional investment will fall fully on Indiana taxpayers.

Why We Love Manufacturing Day

N“Every dollar spent in manufacturing generates $1.32 for the economy.” – U.S. Chamber

Friday, October 3 was National Manufacturing Day (MFG Day), a celebration of an industry often taken for granted in the U.S., an industry that is struggling to find talent, and an industry that has a significant economic impact on Indiana, the nation and the world.

MFG Day addresses common misperceptions about the industry by giving manufacturers an opportunity to open their doors and show, in a coordinated effort, what manufacturing is — and what it isn’t. There were 1,647 MFG Day events throughout the U.S. and Canada (even Puerto Rico!) and some that will continue through October, November and December.

There were 71 events in Indiana alone in every region of the state. 3D Parts Manufacturing, LLC in Indianapolis showed guests 3D printing in action. Amatrol in Jeffersonville offered five tours of their facility. Blackford High School students in Huntington had the opportunity to tour Mayco International, Reflective Industries and Tru-Form Steel and Wire. Caltherm partnered with Columbus North High School for presentations and a facility tour, then allowed freshman to create academic plans with assistance from their guidance counselors based on what they learned. The EDC of Wayne County showed the “American Made Movie,” followed by a tour of Colorbox with students, business and community leaders.

The U.S. Department of Labor said manufacturers have added more than 700,000 jobs since early 2010, jobs with an average salary of $77,000.

Indiana has seen its own economic development success in the manufacturing industry. Indiana leads the nation in manufacturing job growth over the last year with 20,000+ jobs created. Indiana has also added the second most manufacturing jobs (+84,100) in the U.S. since July 2009, at a rate that also ranks second in nation (+19.7%).

IMPACT Award Nominees Sought to Honor Outstanding Interns; Due Oct. 24

19090046Did you host an intern this year who went above and beyond? Does your company have an internship program that provides a solid experiential learning opportunity for students? Do you collaborate with a high school or post-secondary institution with an outstanding career development staff?

Indiana INTERNnet is saluting achievements in internships and mentoring. The organization is currently accepting nominations for the three outstanding interns, a career development professional and two employers who will be recognized at the 9th annual IMPACT Awards luncheon, sponsored by Ivy Tech Community College, early next year.

Individuals are invited to submit more than one nomination in any or all of the award categories:

  • Outstanding Intern (high school, college and non-traditional): contribution to employer’s business; demonstrated leadership skills during internship; and professionalism.
  • Outstanding Career Development Professional: assistance to students with internship opportunities; communication with students/employers; and coaching students on internship professionalism and career development.
  • Outstanding Employer (nonprofit and for-profit): innovative approach to an internship program; formation of meaningful project work; and providing student with professional mentor and networking opportunities.

Winners will be announced at the IMPACT Awards Luncheon in downtown Indianapolis on February 4, 2015 at the Ivy Tech Culinary Center Ballroom.

Visit Indiana INTERNnet’s web site to complete the online nomination form. The deadline for nominations is October 24.

For more information about the Indiana INTERNnet program, visit www.IndianaINTERN.net or call (317) 264-6852.