Effort to coordinate science, technology, engineering and math stalls in committee

By Mary Richards | Posted - Feb 21st, 2013 @ 7:43am

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SALT LAKE CITY — Advocates hope to keep alive a bill that would make a STEM center in Utah, or a central place overseeing the many efforts in science, technology, engineering and math.

HB139 stalled in a House committee Wednesday, but the STEM coordinator at the Utah Office of Education, Diana Suddreth, loves the idea.

"We know that it's a hot topic on the national scale as well. So finally we are at a point where we can say, let's stop talking and let's start doing," she said.

Gov. Gary Herbert, educators, business leaders and more have all stressed STEM as the future of Utah's economy.

HB139 would create a STEM center at the governor's Office of Economic Development. Suddreth said it would be a centralized place for professional development and resources, and coordinate efforts from public education, higher education and industry.

Bill Stalls
HB139 stalled over concerns including:
  • Funding - the bill's price tag is $15 million
  • Where should the center be housed? The bill says in the governor's Office of Economic Development, but some legislators wonder if it should be in the State Office of Education

"There's public STEM education, all the programs in institutions of higher education, add to that industry, add to that healthcare, and you can see that STEM is all over the place, but there's nothing coordinating it," Suddreth said.

It also would make sure students are recognized for their efforts.

"We have the athletic association and we all get excited about who is going to win the state championship in football, but do you have any idea who the last state math contest winner was, or that we even have a state math contest?" she asked.

Suddreth said in 20 years, that's what will support Utah's economy.

Although HB139 stalled in committee over funding and other concerns, it could make a comeback this legislative session.

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