The naming of Iowa Lakes Community College as one of six STEM (science, technology, engineering and math education) centers in Iowa announced Tuesday is a boon to not only the college but the region as a whole.
It's a remarkable achievement for Iowa Lakes when you really think about it. Our local community college competed with not only other community colleges but also regents and private colleges and universities from throughout the state. And it was one of six selected.
And it just didn't happen.
Iowa Lakes' reputation as the premier training center for wind energy education in the country if not the world had a lot to do with it. So did Dr. Bob Klepper's groundbreaking training of students in forensic investigation funded through a National Science Foundation grant. And then there's the ongoing excellence in math and science education, including enormously successful nursing and biofuels programs at the Iowa Lakes Emmetsburg campus, that have helped Iowa Lakes garner such a well-deserved reputation.
That's probably mentioning only the tip of the iceberg. There's much, much more. But that gives us just a little bit of an idea of how Iowa Lakes received this distinction.
To put it into perspective, the STEM initiative will help Iowa Lakes serve schools in an area ranging from West Lyon to Sioux City and Whiting, over to Paton-Churdan and north to Estherville - roughly the northwestern quarter of Iowa.
This program will help train a workforce that will serve the needs of local employers and manufacturers. And, since community college students tend to remain in the area where they receive their education, we can look at this at a big step in preventing the "brain drain" from Iowa.
Iowa Lakes' current upgrading of the technology in its distance learning and technology classrooms will lend itself exceedingly well to the STEM initiative.
So what's the next step? Broadcasting master's, PhD programs into Iowa Lakes classrooms?
And all right here in Estherville.