ARLINGTON, Va. — The Air Force Association’s (AFA) CyberPatriot program has announced STEMspark East Tennessee Innovation Hub (STEMspark) as its sixth CyberPatriot Center of Excellence.
The Center of Excellence designation is awarded to communities and institutions that provide leadership and support to further the educational experiences of their students through the CyberPatriot program. CyberPatriot established the Centers of Excellence program in 2011, and has since then recognized five other entities – Los Angeles Unified School District, the City of San Antonio, Spokane Public Schools, Oklahoma’s Rose State College, and Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia.
The newest Center of Excellence, STEMspark is a regional partnership of educational, business, scientific and research institutions and organizations. The organization connects seven institutions of higher education and twenty-three school districts serving twelve counties surrounding Knox County to promote and support high quality STEM education in the middle East Tennessee region. STEMspark is one of six hubs that make up the TN STEM Innovation Network across the state of Tennessee. It was founded through Race to the Top grants with support from Tennessee Department of Education and Battelle Memorial Institute. STEMspark has been a critical partner with the Holloway AFA Chapter, and since being introduced to the Knox County School Board in 2010, has been successful in getting CyberPatriot coverage in the local news.
“STEMspark has done an outstanding job engaging its community to get involved with CyberPatriot,” said Bernie Skoch, CyberPatriot National Commissioner. “It is clear that STEMspark understands the answer to the challenges our nation faces in cyberspace lies in STEM education for youth. Extending our Centers of Excellence into a major area of Tennessee provides the cyber defenders of tomorrow even more opportunities and resources to support their STEM education.” STEMspark has successfully initiated an after-school class for mentor training. The Oak Ridge National Laboratory has been a growing source of mentors to local teams, and a current initiative with major youth organizations presents a promising source for new teams in the upcoming CyberPatriot VIII competition season.
CyberPatriot, the nation’s largest and fastest growing youth cyber education program, is AFA’s flagship science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) program dedicated to strengthening cyber skills among American youth. Students in the program also gain valuable knowledge from the expertise of CyberPatriot’s many supporters, including the Northrop Grumman Foundation, CyberPatriot’s presenting sponsor. CyberPatriot’s other sponsors include Cyber Diamond sponsors AT&T Federal and the AT&T Foundation, Cisco, Microsoft, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense; Cyber Gold sponsors Facebook, Riverside Research, Splunk, and Symantec; and Cyber Silver sponsors Air Force Reserve, EmbryRiddle Aeronautical University, Leidos, and University of Maryland University College.