Did you know that we will soon have one of the state’s premier institutions for STEM education right in our backyard? Beginning with the 2016-2017 school year, The Mahoning County Career and Technical Center (MCCTC), located in Canfield, Ohio, will house the Valley STEM + Me2 Academy, one of only 19 STEM schools in Ohio. Keep reading to get answers to some very important questions about STEM education in the Mahoning Valley.

Q: What is STEM education?
A: STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. While originally designed to encourage more students to pursue careers in these specific areas, STEM education has evolved into a unique approach to teaching and learning that fosters creative and innovative thinking in all students. The goal of STEM education in Ohio is “to provide a dynamic teaching and learning community linked to area industries.” In other words, STEM education will answer the demands of a changing workforce while providing innovative learners and leaders.

Q: What kinds of students will attend the Valley STEM + ME2 Academy?
The school falls under a different set of laws than charter or private schools. It is part of the public school systems and partners with area schools to enhance student education. Geared toward 9th and 10th graders, any Ohioans in those grades can attend, although most will be from the Mahoning County area. Offering a different kind of educational experience, admission is not restricted to those with high GPAs or students who excel particularly in math and science.

What’s more, the school is not geared specifically toward vocational or college prep students. “A lot of the labs will gear them to go directly to a career. We gear them up to go to college. If they don’t go to college, they still have valuable skills they could use to start a career,” said Engineering Instructor Walter Baber in an interview with WYTV.

Q: What is the student experience at the STEM Academy?
A: Throughout high school, our area young people remain students under their district and are eligible for all extracurricular activities, sports, etc. Students enter the STEM Academy during 9th and/or 10th grade and take a variety of courses outlined by a special STEM curriculum, which includes computer science and engineering, biomedical innovation, and clean energy technology. After students finish their first two years, there are a variety of options for 11th and 12th grade. These include:

  1. Apply to attend STEM Community Learning Centers (partners of the STEM Academy) to concentrate in pre-medical fields, and manufacturing. Austintown and Canfield are partners.
  2. Remain as 11th/12th grader at the Valley STEM + ME2 Academy. The direction this takes will depend on student interest in particular career pathways. Pathways will be explored based on demand, and data to drive this process. Students will be consistently surveyed starting as freshmen, to plan and deliver the instruction in following years. This will be fluid, to provide current, relevant, course offerings.
  3. Return to home district in traditional setting. All credits transfer.
  4. Apply for for one of the MCCTC Programs that The Valley STEM + ME2 Academy pathway prepares students for: Engineering, Advanced Manufacturing, Informational Technology, and Biotechnology (see below).
  5. Apply for any of the 23 programs at MCCTC.

Q: What kind of technology does the STEM Academy offer?
A: The MCCTC offers some of the best technology available in STEM education today. Here is just some of the equipment and facilities the MCCTC provides:

  • 7000+ square foot renovated lab and open classroom space complete with technology for student use
  • Personal Trio 3D Printer
  • Large Volume 3D Printer-3D Chimera
  • 3D Scanner-Afinia 3D Digital
  • Laser Engraver-Epilog
  • Printer/Cutter-Roland
  • Flatbed UV Printer-Roland
  • Wide-Format Printer/Cutter, VersaCAM VSi Series-Roland
  • MDX-540 Benchtop Milling-Roland
  • Zspace 3D Interactives, which has been featured on WYTV.

Q: This sounds like an amazing program, where can I learn more?
A: Mahoning County’s STEM efforts have been chronicled across various media including local TV, Ohio Gas & Oil Magazine, and The Business Journal.