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May 12, 2014

On May 8 and 9, SDWP President and CEO Peter Callstrom attended the STEP Central’s 2014 STEPWork Meeting at the University of Central Florida, Harris Engineering Center in Orlando. The conference brings together leaders from the education and workforce worlds to address science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in the United States.  

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the STEM Talent Expansion Program (STEP) seeks to increase the number of students receiving associate or baccalaureate degrees in established or emerging fields within STEM. STEP provides merit-based grants to undergraduate institutions to support strategies to improve recruitment and retention of STEM students (based on best practices). To help identify these best practices and to further the understanding of factors influencing STEM recruitment and retention, STEP also funds educational research projects focused on degree attainment in STEM.

STEP Central is designed to assist the STEP community by facilitating the sharing of ideas, resources, and data, so that STEP projects can build on each other’s successes and experiences. In addition, it provides resources useful to the broader higher education community (both researchers and practitioners) and to those responsible for shaping educational policy.

The STEPWork meeting included discussions related to NSF program sustainability, workforce board and academic collaborations, best strategies and more. 

Dr. Charles De Leone, physics professor at CSU-San Marcos, received a STEP grant. As his workforce counterpart, Callstrom is collaborating locally to identify strategies to deploy in our region. The CSUSM STEP website provides additional perspective on this exciting project:

Callstrom found the conference very beneficial in promoting STEM and how this connects to workforce investment. “I look forward to seeing how we can implement more STEM support in our region,” he says.

STEP is a Congressionally mandated program, initiated in 2002 as part of the 2001 Technology Talent Act. 

For more about STEP Central, visit

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