The SD EPSCoR Office of STEM Partnerships has been working to establish networks between informal STEM programs in South Dakota and help bridge the gaps between K-12 education, higher education, and industry.
The purpose of this database is to longitudinally track student participation in SD EPSCoR STEM Education & Outreach programs to determine their impact. This info may allow specific attribution to the role of SD EPSCoR investments in achieving state workforce needs.
A unique aspect to this goal is the establishment of the SD EPSCoR STEM Database. All partnering informal STEM programs use this database as part of their program registration. This allows SD EPSCoR to track student participation in these STEM programs throughout their secondary education years and into post-secondary education.
The SD EPSCoR STEM database supports South Dakota organizations and events including regional science fairs, Women in Science, various statewide robotics programs, and other university-sponsored youth programs that focus on STEM careers. This is a no cost system and each registration site is built to meet the individual program needs.
Once students enroll in post-secondary schools and identify STEM majors as their course of study, the SD EPSCoR Office of STEM Partnerships will work closely with Diversity officers at all SD EPSCoR institutions. Parts of these efforts are designed to support these offices and their staff in helping transition students to the university system and identify resources to ensure success.
Another key factor in ensuring student success is building partnerships between institutions, students, and industry. These partnerships allow students to focus on preparing for their careers in South Dakota’s STEM industry through internships, undergraduate research activities, and mentoring.
The database allows SD EPSCoR partners to better manage their programs. Some of programs recruit professionals as volunteers each year and using the database allows these professionals to register in the various programs through the streamlined system, which greatly enhances recruitment efforts and efficiency.
Baseline data for the STEM Database was collected in 2015 and full disaggregation of data is expected to begin in 2017.