Plans for new science complex support CSUEB commitment to training students for 21st century jobs
BY SARAH STANEK
Science, technology, engineering, and math — known as the STEM disciplines — are key to the jobs of the future, which studies show will require advanced skills. President Mohammad Qayoumi compares the need for technical fluency for today’s students to the necessity of Latin in an early 19th-century education.
“The future economic and social vibrancy of our region and our nation depend on an increasingly well-educated and technologically skilled workforce,” he says.
Cal State East Bay’s commitment to STEM students, programs, and partnerships is apparent in plans for a future STEM education complex on the Hayward Campus, with advanced classrooms, laboratories, and equipment; and in its first comprehensive fundraising campaign, The University of Possibilities. In addition to STEM education, the campaign includes appeals to support academics, access, student success, and future opportunities.
The University’s academic plan identifies STEM as an area of critical need and a key priority. A new STEM complex will be a vital component, providing much-needed resources for students and faculty to teach and learn effectively, says Dean Michael Leung of the College of Science.
Transforming STEM education for the 21st century will be a joint effort of the colleges of Science and Education and Allied Studies. “We want to co-locate the activities of our science and education colleges,” Leung says, adding that a new facility will aid in collaboration. “Our partnership is one of the strongest in the CSU system, and we can use that to meet our goals.”
Drawing on that, the University developed a three-part strategy to put CSUEB at the forefront of solving regional STEM-education needs by:
- Educating the skilled STEM workforce of the 21st century, including math and science teachers
- Developing a new generation of STEM teachers and researching effective STEM education techniques
- Partnering with local schools, governments, businesses, and national research labs to build a pipeline of students prepared to study STEM and interested in STEM careers
“The emphasis is on infusing STEM into all levels of education from K-12 to community college to the university level,” says Barbara Storms, interim associate dean of the College of Education and Allied Studies.
Initial proposals for the STEM complex call for approximately 132,000 square feet of space, with additional funding for technology and academic programs. Building costs would be financed by a mix of private and public funds, much like the Valley Business and Technology Building.
The fundraising campaign, now in an early phase during which “leadership” gifts are being solicited, is expected to generate the initial financial backing needed to leverage full funding.
The president also called for the plans to preserve access for a broad range of students and ensure that all CSUEB graduates, regardless of major, have stronger STEM skills. The goal, he says, is “to create a robust cradle-to-career pipeline of students, graduates, and professionals ready for the challenges and opportunities of a growing knowledge economy.”
Even as budget cuts dominate campus news, Qayoumi says the campaign and the STEM education project will go forward. “We cannot afford to delay,” he says. “This is our opportunity to lay the foundation, now, for a leadership position in the new economy ahead.”