Business

STEM annex boosts high-tech careers

BY JOHN GLISCH
Special to Florida Weekly


Brevard Community College students have a new STEM Annex on the Cocoa campus that will prepare them for careers in science, technology, engineering and math. 
PHOTOS SPECIAL TO FLORIDA WEEKLY BY MIKE BROWN, BCC ADJUNCT PROFESSOR, PHOTOGRAPHY Brevard Community College students have a new STEM Annex on the Cocoa campus that will prepare them for careers in science, technology, engineering and math. PHOTOS SPECIAL TO FLORIDA WEEKLY BY MIKE BROWN, BCC ADJUNCT PROFESSOR, PHOTOGRAPHY If you want a good job in a growing field, here’s the roadmap: Study science, technology, engineering and math — or STEM — and the door will open to a promising, high-paying future.

Brevard Community College has increased its commitment to enhance those careers — and the Space Coast economy along with them — with the recent opening of its new STEM Annex on the Cocoa campus

The 8,500-square foot facility, which contains two classrooms and four specialized labs, is tailored to educate students in emerging industries and provide customized training for employees at Brevard companies.

For example, the faculty is in the process of training about 170 employees of Brazilian jet-maker Embraer in the fundamentals of aviation maintenance as the firm continues to expand its operations at Melbourne International Airport.


At the ribbon-cutting, from left: Bob New of Blue Sky Insurance representing the Cocoa Beach Chamber of Commerce; and BCC’s Frank Margiotta, Joe Lee Smith, John Dietrich, President Jim Richey, Linda Miedema and Rich Laird. At the ribbon-cutting, from left: Bob New of Blue Sky Insurance representing the Cocoa Beach Chamber of Commerce; and BCC’s Frank Margiotta, Joe Lee Smith, John Dietrich, President Jim Richey, Linda Miedema and Rich Laird. In all, BCC’s Corporate Services program has trained about 2,500 STEM workers for 44 companies and agencies the past five years in fields including aerospace, aviation, computers, biomedicine and manufacturing.

“The goal of our new STEM building could not be more important nor come at a more critical time for our community,” said Jim Richey, BCC president.

“We want to prepare our students for jobs in the fastest-growing, high-technology fields in the Brevard and Florida economies — indeed, in the global economy — and to work closely with local businesses to make certain they have the best workforce anywhere.


According to Brevard Community College President Jim Richey, the school’s STEM programs are “central elements in helping Brevard’s rebounding economy.” 
PHOTO SPECIAL TO FLORIDA WEEKLY BY MIKE BROWN, BCC ADJUNCT PROFESSOR, PHOTOGRAPHY According to Brevard Community College President Jim Richey, the school’s STEM programs are “central elements in helping Brevard’s rebounding economy.” PHOTO SPECIAL TO FLORIDA WEEKLY BY MIKE BROWN, BCC ADJUNCT PROFESSOR, PHOTOGRAPHY “That makes the College’s science, technology, engineering and math programs central elements in helping Brevard’s rebounding economy, and makes the STEM building a new focal point in that effort.”

STEM demand exceeds supply

Studies show the value of a STEM education and how demand is far outstripping the supply of STEM graduates in the U.S. and Florida.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers has found that engineering diplomas account for 12 of the 15 top-paying majors, with graduates in computer sciences earning an average salary of $61,400.

However, a 2011 report from Florida Gov. Rick Scott reported that less than 20 percent of Florida university graduates will earn a STEM degree. It also found the rate of STEM graduates will not fill the estimated 120,000 high-tech jobs created in Florida by 2018.

BCC’s new STEM annex is geared to address those concerns by inspiring students to enter STEM fields and give those already in the workforce new skills, Mr. Richey said.

Among the highlights of the customized workforce training are no-cost consultation, tailored curriculum, flexible schedules and certificates of completion.

As a result, Mr. Richey said the $1.5 million facility can serve as a magnet to help attract more companies to Brevard.

“This facility gives the college the ability to react quickly to fast-changing economic and workforce needs, and contribute to the cycle of business success,” he said.

“That’s shown by our worker-training partnership with Embraer, which recently announced it would base its first North American engineering and design center at the Melbourne airport. That new center, in turn, could draw more companies and workers to Brevard — workers that BCC’s STEM programs and this facility could also help educate and train.”

The April 24 grand opening included statements of support from community and business leaders as well as tours of the facility. ¦

— Story courtesy of Brevard Community College


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