TECT Aerospace is committing $100,000 over the next five years to Wichita State University to help develop a mentoring program to promote science, technology, engineering and math careers to students in grades Kindergarten through 12th grade.
The gift will be used to help WSU’s College of Engineering create a citywide mentoring program to help stimulate interest among girls, low-income youth and students of color in STEM education and careers, according to WSU.
The program will recruit professionals in STEM-related fields in the Wichita area to volunteer to help with mentoring and activities.
The financial support is crucial to efforts by WSU’s College of Engineering and a coalition of partners as it seeks to help Wichita be named winning city in the US2020 initiative, which works to bolster STEM mentorship to students, according the university.
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Wichita is one of 13 finalists in the competition, which will award $1 million in resources to five winning cities. The winners will be announced in March.
The gift was made with the assistance of The Glass Foundation, which supports philanthropic endeavors on behalf of Kenneth Glass and family, which owns the TECT family of businesses.
“TECT Aerospace and The Glass Foundation are pleased to support Wichita State’s effort to obtain a STEM mentoring grant for Wichita,” Pete Knapper, TECT Aerospace president, said in a statement. “We see this as an investment in the future. Engineering professionals are key to the success of our business, and we want to encourage the development of skills that we need to staff the work force of the future.”
Growth in STEM related jobs over the next 10 years is expected to exceed the growth of non-STEM jobs, WSU said. The U.S. is producing too few STEM professionals to fill demand.
“That could result in Wichita, as well as the United States, losing its competitive edge in areas that are vital to economic growth,” it said.
The WSU-led coalition for the US2020 competition includes the city of Wichita, school districts, industry and business, volunteer groups and youth-serving organizations.
The coalition will move forward with the local mentoring program even if it’s not selected for the US2020 initiative, the university said.
“We have to continue to grow our own talent and make students aware of exciting STEM careers that impact our community and the world,” Larry Whitman, associate dean of WSU’s College of Engineering, said in a statement. “This commitment from TECT Aerospace demonstrates the kind of leadership that will keep Wichita as the Air Capitol of the World.”