Network Explores Industry Learning Exchanges

ND STEM Network manager Ryan Aasheim and the Praxis Strategy Group is developing a strategy for the ND STEM Network that includes establishing a STEM Industry Learning Exchange that will work to connect private industry and business with K12 schools, their teachers, and ultimately the learners, our North Dakota children.

Industry Learning Exchanges bring together educators, industry and other stakeholders in government and the non-profit sector to better align and galvanize efforts and resources to create North Dakota’s next generation STEM workforce.  Industry Learning Exchanges are public-private partnerships organized by career cluster that work to coordinate planning, investment and sharing of resources. Learning exchanges promote STEM careers and occupations and identify work place learning opportunities for students that fit their interests and aspirations.

Exchanges create an organizing structure for communications and coordination to better connect programs across the state in a similar career cluster while also tracking local and statewide needs and performance.  Industry participation ensures that STEM curricula reflect current and future skills and trends related to technology.   Successful, high performing programs can be replicated in other localities and/or scaled up for implementation statewide.

A Learning Exchange will be launched in seven identified industries areas below and led by the ND STEM Network to leverage a statewide network of businesses, employer associations, education partners, and other stakeholders. The exchanges would ideally be launched using state investment, but would be supported by investments and on-going commitments from public-private partners.  An initial effort would focus on three industries sectors for one year to build their network, further develop capacity for implementation, and demonstrate function as it leads to enhanced learning.

  1. Energy
  2. Aviation, Aerospace, UAS
  3. Agriculture & Biotech
  4. Software, Computing, & IT
  5. Medical, Health, Life sciences
  6. Manufacturing
  7. Creative Industries

Models for these learning exchanges exist elsewhere, most notably in Illinois:  STEM Learning Exchange.

Graphic: ND STEM Network STEM Industry Learning Exchange

Pilot project:

On North Dakota Coal

Climate change is a fact1, the inefficiently captured work of combusted fossil fuels among the most notable culprits.

Personal transportation, seemingly a right, has petroleum consumption at a sustained high2, with each mile driven adding carbon to an atmosphere3 that we breathe and that protects all of humanity from the destructive rays of our Sun.

Continued burning of fossils mined from the Earth without balance is unthinkable; the lake is not infinitely big, releasing your tired oil directly into the creek had to stop.

Getting to a point of balance on consumption (emissions) and need is daunting, and that effort will extend beyond any of our lifetimes, 100, 200 years forward.

Coal-fired electricity generation has become an easy blame4, with the individual’s automobiles tertiary, in part due to scale: a very large power plant versus my single automobile – a discarded watch battery ending up in a landfill certainly can’t be the problem, can it?

American’s inabilities with conceiving scale and utilizing mathematics renders hindered understandings of the reality of the situation.5 Instead we let the effects of a heated atmosphere creep up on us exponentially when only to discover an irreversible cascade that will gut biologies, and economies. Yet Mother Nature will survive, she does not require the foolhardy to propagate.

And you and I need transportation, we need electricity, we need heat, and appreciate air conditioning, but can we strike that balance with less emotional fear?

Coal in North Dakota is a vital part of the electricity generation picture that should continue as we develop reliable and efficient technologies as alternatives.

Coal in North Dakota is working hard to improve on the processes of efficient combustion and transmission of electricity, and there is no better demonstration in the Nation than at the Great River Energy Coal Creek Station at Falkirk, ND.

Since inception, Great River Energy has led by example in design, in efficiency, in cleanliness, in transmission, in reclamation, with worker excellence, safety, and stewardship.6

As mankind works together to avoid the irreversible, hold captive not the producers of electricity who respond to need and opportunity, challenge instead the consumers who remain ignorant to individual significance to the problem and the resourcefulness to conserve.

Insist on investments in technologies that harness renewable energies, in solar and wind, power storage, even sequestration: could incentivizing the creation of massive oak plantations7 contribute to that balance? And do we need government to force our hand?

Only as alternatives come into fruition will the debate be tempered, rendering tertiary the necessity of the burning of fossil fuels.