St. Norbert College awarded funding to prepare students for science and technology fields

From St. Norbert College, December 15, 2009
by Mike Counter, mike.counter@snc.edu, (920) 403-3089

St. Norbert College has been awarded $910,000 through the Omnibus Appropriations Act for an initiative to prepare students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Congressman Steve Kagen, M.D. and Senator Herb Kohl worked with college leaders to secure funding for this important initiative. The appropriation now goes to President Obama for his signature, and is expected to be approved.

Kagen and Kohl, advocates of STEM education and training, advanced St. Norbert's request through the legislative process and voted for the Omnibus Appropriations Act that provides short-term help for the hardest hit Americans during this economic crisis, long-term projects to grow our economy for years to come and more than $5 Million in investments in northeast Wisconsin.

The federal funds allocated to St. Norbert College will be used towards instructional technology, laboratory equipment and instrumentation, laboratory and classroom furnishings, and science discovery center supplies.

"The education of our young people, particularly in the sciences, is an investment in the future of northeast Wisconsin and in our country," Kagen said. "I am working hard to invest hard-earned tax dollars here at home in projects that create jobs and improve our community. These projects were requested by our local leaders who rely on me to bring federal funding back home. I am going to bat every day for families and businesses in northeast Wisconsin and the results show."

"As our society continues to change and grow with technology and electronics, it is important that our students and future leaders are well educated in science, technology, engineering and math related fields," Kohl added. "This funding will provide St. Norbert College the supplies and facilities they need to continue their hard work providing a first-class education to their students."

"We are deeply grateful to Senator Kohl and Congressman Kagen for their efforts in securing funding for our STEM programs," said St. Norbert President Thomas Kunkel. "By preparing today's St. Norbert students in science and technology, we will be developing tomorrow's researchers, scholars and science teachers. It's an investment that will pay dividends for generations."

"This initiative will enhance our region's ability to develop leaders in the STEM fields," said Michael Marsden, dean of St. Norbert College and academic vice president. "This project will not only benefit the people and manufacturers of Wisconsin but everyone interested in advancing the crucial STEM disciplines in the 21st century. This federal appropriation will allow us to take a major step forward on our plans to enhance science education at St. Norbert College."

Students of all ages will benefit from these enhancements by experiencing firsthand scientific discovery. Outreach to K-12 schools will help draw students into the STEM pipeline at an early age, instructional technologies will enhance science literacy for all college students, and upgraded laboratory equipment and instrumentation will provide advanced experiences to science majors that will prepare them for graduate school and careers as teachers, researchers and lab technicians.

"The proposed St. Norbert College science project will have a significant impact in Wisconsin, helping to stimulate the economy and jobs in the state," said Kunkel. "For instance, the world's largest manufacturer of laboratory furniture and fume hoods happens to be located about 40 miles from campus."

In addition to this project, faculty and administrators have been working with a design consulting firm to develop the plan for renovating and expanding the Dr. John R. Minahan Science Hall. A donation of $375,000 from Mark Stinski, a professor of virology (the study of viruses) at the University of Iowa, funded schematics for the renovation and expansion of the science facility. Stinski attended St. Norbert College for two years.

Federal funding, however, will allow the college to immediately install projectors and laptop computers to support new pedagogies; sophisticated microscopes and devices for advanced research; tables and storage and display cabinets for hands-on activity; and specialized probes and interfaces for outreach to K-12 students and teachers in northeastern Wisconsin.

"These items are readily transferrable when construction of the renovated and expanded facility is completed," said Larry Scheich, associate dean of natural sciences. "These efforts to transform teaching and learning environments will help to better prepare the next generation of students in STEM fields and enhance the science literacy of all students."