For immediate release: June 14, 2007

GALVESTON, Texas - The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, using a $1.25 million grant, plans to open the Southeast Regional T-STEM Center to prepare Texas students - in particular, low-income and minority students - for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

T-STEM - Texas Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics - is a component of the Texas High School Project, an initiative committed to increasing graduation rates and college enrollment rates in Texas communities. The goal of the seven T-STEM centers located throughout Texas is to enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics education for intermediate and secondary students and teachers.

"We want to improve student achievement in math and science and increase the number of students pursuing postsecondary studies and careers in STEM fields," said Clifford W. Houston, T-STEM Center project director. "We will assist the school systems by providing professional development training for teachers and hands-on, activities-based curricula for students in order to produce a competent workforce to meet future challenges."

The center plans to host training workshops for teachers and provide direct support for 10 T-STEM Academy schools in the area, as well as Houston, Cypress-Fairbanks, Galveston and La Marque ISDs. The academies, serving grades 6-12, are designed to spark student interest in math and science by engaging them in real-world learning activities. They plan to enroll at least 25,000 low-income and minority students annually.

According to Houston, who is also a UTMB professor of microbiology, these students will help fill the shortage of qualified workers in STEM fields and help the nation regain its dominance in the sciences. "We've got to be concerned with who's going to replace the retiring baby boomers in the scientific and high-tech fields. We can't necessarily rely on foreign workers to fill our workforce gaps," said Houston. "We have the talent and potential in our underrepresented minorities and disadvantaged students. They are an underutilized human resource in this country."

The center will host a "leadership for change" conference for administrators in July and a "curriculum development" conference for teachers in August. Beginning January 2008, the center will begin implanting selected STEM content and practices in high school classrooms throughout southeast Texas.

The Southeast Regional T-STEM Center will be based at UTMB, with Rice University and Texas State University College of Education as major collaborators. The center will partner with the STEM Academies, four school districts - Houston, Cypress-Fairbanks, Galveston and La Marque - as well as with Education Service Center Regions 3, 4 and 5, located in Victoria, Houston and Beaumont, respectively. In addition, the center will partner with major businesses and industries in the Houston-Galveston area, including the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Moody Gardens, NASA Johnson Space Center and Gulf Coast Workforce Development Board.

The Texas High School Project, which launched in 2003, is supported by Gov. Rick Perry, the Texas Education Agency, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Communities Foundation of Texas. The T-STEM initiative is overseen by the Texas Education Agency.
The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Public Affairs Office
301 University Boulevard, Suite 3.102
Galveston, Texas 77555-0144