New Lynchburg Regional STEM Academy Aims to Train Tech Workforce

Lynchburg, VA - It's the first regional STEM Academy in Virginia, and it's right here in Lynchburg.

Wednesday night, an open house was held for high school students looking to enroll in the newly-formed Lynchburg Regional Governor's STEM Academy.

STEM - stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

The program aims to train a future work force here for Region 2000; taking local high school students passionate for technology and science, and turning them into the innovators this region so desperately needs.

"This is important for our region because it fills a gap, a need that wasn't filled before" said the Academy's Director, Susan Cash.

"It helps students learn real world, applicable skills" she said.

High School Juniors and Seniors from Lynchburg and the four surrounding counties; learning important skills to be applied to the area's growing science and technology industries.

"Think of the STEM Academy as kind of like a highway with multiple exit points" said Cash.

She describes the program as preparing students for any number of future options.

They'll graduate with 35 college credits and a career certificate from Central Virginia Community College.

She says from there they can take a great paying tech job, or choose to continue on with their education.

"It's a work readiness program which we feel will benefit Centra" said Ruth Maragni, a Career Outreach Specialist for Centra.

Centra, one of many corporate participants, is looking forward to reaping the benefits of the Academy.

Students will be trained in maintenance of hospital equipment.

"We have to have a quick turnover of equipment because it's needed for patient care on a continuous basis" said Maragni.

And already, months before it begins, the program is spurring excitement among prospects.

When asked what they were most excited for students replied, "The megatronics, the robot."

"Just putting stuff together and taking it apart, and just learning all kinds of different things."

"Yeah, it seems pretty cool."

The academy is accepting 25 students that will start in the fall of 2013.

And the cost for students is free. It's all paid for by the participating school systems, as well as the academy's corporate partners.