Lynchburg, VA - The gap between education and industry has never been wider. Now, with the aging workforce, businesses and students are left scrambling for answers.
In steps the XLR8 ("Accelerate") STEM Academy at Central Virginia Community College. Opened just 8 months ago, 25 students were accepted into the program. Students attend a half day at CVCC, then return to their high school for further classes.
The curriculum at the STEM Academy is designed with the region's projected industrial growth in mind. In Lynchburg, that means focusing on technologies like engineering, mechatronics, and health care technology.
Students earn college credits, certificates, and 12 week internships with area companies.
STEM Director Susan Cash says that the program opens doors for students. Said Cash: "Some of these students will take their credits and get an associate's degree, and go and get a job in the engineering/technician field, some of these students will take their credits, and get a four year degree."
Senator Tim Kaine visited the classrooms at the Areva Technology Center, to see first hand what students are learning and creating.
He says programs like the STEM Academy, are setting students up for success. Said Kaine, "Project Based Learning is, really, the kinds of learning that most equates with success in the workforce, and CVCC is doing a really good job with that."