The GE Global Research Center dedicated to Oil & Gas Technology is currently under construction in downtown Oklahoma City. The new Center, which will create 130 high-tech jobs, is not the only commitment GE is making to Oklahoma.
On April 21, 2015, the GE Foundation, the philanthropic organization of GE, announced a donation of $400,000 to the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) to launch STEM Empowers OK – a statewide initiative to engage and inspire greater interest among high school students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
As part of STEM Empowers OK, GE will sponsor a weeklong STEM program for up to 50 students at the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics (OSSM) in late July and launch an open innovation challenge later this fall. The Open Innovation Challenge will invite students (grades 6-12) from schools across the state to share their ideas on ways to build a better and stronger Oklahoma. The Challenge will be led by OCAST, which leads the state’s technology-based economic development efforts. In addition to the weeklong STEM program and open innovation challenge, funding from the GE Foundation also will support several internship, mentoring and scholarship opportunities for Oklahoma students as well as a new summer GE STEM Fellowship program for Oklahoma teachers. GE will be involved in the program through its Global Research Oil and Gas Technology Center under construction in Oklahoma City, across the street from OSSM at the corner of 10th and Walnut Avenue. GE will work with OCAST to identify other technology and innovation-driven Oklahoma companies to participate as well.
GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt said, “Through STEM Empowers OK, we will engage a new generation of scientists and engineers across Oklahoma. We could not ask for better partners than OCAST and OSSM. These organizations support new entrepreneurs and future scientists and engineers who are motivated to solve the world’s toughest challenges.”
Immelt, who was in Oklahoma City for GE’s annual Shareowners Meeting, announced the launch of STEM Empowers OK during a special event held on the OSSM campus. He was joined by OCAST Executive Director Michael Carolina; Frank Wang, Ph.D., president of OSSM; a host of state and local government, business and community leaders; faculty and students from OSSM, and other GE business leaders.
Michael Carolina, executive director of OCAST, said, “We’re thrilled to partner with GE and OSSM in expanding STEM education opportunities for students across Oklahoma. Our state’s economy has been historically shaped by pioneers who have broken the mold in energy and other major industries with new technologies. The best investments we can make to continue this forward-looking future is to inspire, teach and recognize the next generation of scientists and engineers who lead innovation in our state and nation.”
Frank Wang, Ph.D., president of OSSM, said, “En route to class every school day, students pass a plaque that declares ‘The future of the future is the present.’ GE’s investment in the STEM Empowers OK initiative is the investment today that will ensure a stronger and more vibrant Oklahoma and nation tomorrow. I am confident that this initiative will inspire many more Oklahoma students to explore and pursue careers in STEM-related fields and ultimately lead them to helping solve the challenges that face our state and nation.