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Lockheed Martin grant will help college explore STEM education

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POTSDAM - The State University of New York at Potsdam has received a grant from a unit of the Lockheed Martin Corporation that will help the college explore development of new curricula to enrich STEM education with arts components.

As the focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education increases, a growing number of stakeholders are looking to integrate arts education into a formula for student success.

“The complex problems in the world today demand scientists who can tackle issues creatively to develop the innovations that will lead to solutions,” said SUNY Potsdam Provost Dr. Margaret Madden, who leads the team that is developing the new curriculum at the College.

“Instruction in the arts has revolved around fostering interdisciplinary critical thinking and creativity,” she said. “We are certain that a program combining arts with sciences can prepare students with both strong technical skills and creative thinking strategies, to be innovation leaders. This collaborative effort of expert faculty scientists and artists is a unique approach to curriculum development, and we are very much looking forward to implementing their curriculum recommendations in the coming year.”

Haden Land, Class of 1984, a Potsdam College Foundation trustee, is the vice president of Engineering and Chief Technology Officer for Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Solutions-Civil. He pointed out that his alma mater is poised to lead in this field.

“SUNY Potsdam is ideally suited for this new ‘STEAM’ approach, with a long tradition of innovative education in the arts and sciences, natural sciences, computer science and math,” Land said. “This joint project will create a new interdisciplinary degree program to foster creative and analytical thinking by combining studies in the arts and humanities with STEM disciplines.”

The team’s preliminary work involves researching the science of creativity and studying similar models in education and industry. In addition to rigorous coursework, the new program will offer opportunities for students to do hands-on work on longer-term projects that are relevant to the world beyond the Potsdam campus.

SUNY Potsdam has a long tradition of innovative education in the arts and sciences. For example, its Crane School of Music, founded in 1886, was one of the first institutions in the country to have programs dedicated to preparing specialists in teaching music in the public schools. SUNY Potsdam also took the lead in 1970 by establishing one of the country’s first collegiate computer science programs. Today, all SUNY Potsdam students, regardless of their major, are required to take more arts courses as part of the College’s general education program than students at any other college in the State University of New York system.

Members of SUNY Potsdam’s STEAM Team include: Jill Pearon, assistant provost/music performance; Marsha Baxter, music education; Heather Beauchamp, psychology; Kim Bouchard, theatre and dance; Derek Habermas, mathematics; Mark Huff, art; Brian Ladd, computer science, and Gordon Plague, biology. Additional team members include: Margaret Madden, provost/psychology; Steven Marqusee, dean of arts and sciences/anthropology; Peter Brouwer, dean of education and professional studies/secondary mathematics education; Jenica Rogers, director of libraries, and Nancy Griffin, development officer.

Haden Land and Michael Nance, the chief information security officer and cyber chief technology officer for Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Solutions, both traveled to the SUNY Potsdam campus recently to meet with the group.

The Lockheed Martin grant coincided with the college’s public launch of Take the Lead: The Campaign for Potsdam. The grant addresses the campaign’s academic excellence priority.

Built on the momentum of tradition, innovation and creativity, the campaign will shape SUNY Potsdam’s third century. The Take the Lead Campaign aims to raise $27 million by the College’s bicentennial in 2016. The strategic priorities include support for the Annual Fund for Potsdam, scholarships, academic excellence, the student experience and the arts.

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