About STEM West

Mission Statement

STEM West advocates and supports the alignment of educational and occupational objectives through the regional workforce and community partnerships.


STEM West began as a partnership between a Catawba County teacher and The Science House of NC State University. This partnership resulted in over a million dollars in grants. Participation in these grants led to further partnerships across the state, especially with STEM East (www.stemeast.org).

In November of 2013, the first STEM West meeting was held inviting a variety of community members: school administrators, government officials, business owners and operators, teachers, higher education, community colleges, science centers, non-profit organizations, and interested citizens. Dr. Sam Houston, CEO of the Science, Mathematics, & Technology Center of the Research Triangle, set forth the challenge to build STEM West into an organization that can have a positive influence on STEM education and ultimately the workforce and economic development of western NC.

After several community meetings and development of an advisory board, mission statements and initiatives were developed. A pilot grant from the Institute of Emerging Issues paved the way for the first initiatives of the organization by partnering teachers with local STEM business partners to create and implement real-world project-based learning (PBL) units for the classroom. On March 1st, 2016 STEM West became official as part of the Western Piedmont Council of Governments (WPCOG). STEM West represents the educational arm of Workforce Development. The initial funding was granted by the Duke Energy Foundation for the first two years, along with additional funds from the NC Community Foundation (Biogen) and the Burroughs-Wellcome Fund.

“The community and business are symbiotic. STEM is the glue that keeps business, especially manufacturing, and the community joined.”

— C. John Wiley (President, Concept Frames, Inc./Newton)

What is stem education

A definition of STEM education can be found in various places across the literature. Many will argue that the definition will be different depending on the audience and those implementing the strategies/projects/activities.

The work of STEM West reflects the following definition:

STEM education is an interdisciplinary approach to learning that removes the traditional barriers separating the four disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and integrates them into real-world, rigorous, and relevant learning experiences for students.”

— STEM Lesson Essentials: Integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (2013)

Connections Among the STEM Practices

–STEM Lesson Essentials: Integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (2013)