Gatepost Editorial: STEM initiative cultivates FSU’s academic potential

Imagine if the next great scientist, the next big scientific breakthrough or the next revolutionary tech idea came out of little Framingham State University.

It’s certainly an exciting notion.

And with the state-of-the-art facilities currently being installed in Hemenway Hall, Framingham’s already notable student and faculty scientists will be closer to making that fantasy a reality by the end of this year.

Now, that is not to say that 16 shiny new labs, however impressive and useful they may be, are going to launch FSU onto the national scientific stage out of the gates. Additionally, it would be an affront to our alma mater to allow this massive project to overshadow the rich history and equally rich present that Framingham State boasts in literature, education and other liberal arts or soft sciences – what we might think of as the powerful “right brain” of our community.

However, the Hemenway addition, as a physical manifestation of the nationwide initiative in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, in which Massachusetts is a distinguished participant, is a vital stepping-stone in stimulating our “left brain” and enhancing a much-needed region of our academic landscape. This would ultimately allow our university to shine as the dynamic and diverse institution it deserves to be, and which we, as its students, deserve to attend.

What FSU’s participation in the STEM educational initiative means on the ground, in the most basic sense, is that students and faculty will be able to perform the research and day-to-day scientific activities that allow them to excel as scientists and scholars, and craft meaningful and successful careers.

On the grandest scale, learning in a state-of-the-art environment allows for more elaboration on the established knowledge in a given field, which then opens the door for innovation that can lead to technological breakthroughs that will affect our nation, and even our world.

This is the aim of the Obama administration in allocating billions to STEM education – to elevate our country’s place on the world stage as a primary contributor to the technologies that are improving quality of life throughout the world.

For example, in the wake of Obama’s veto of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline (which would have originated in Canada and straddled the length of the U.S., carrying crude oil), the question is more prevalent and more passionately debated than ever: whether we should continue to rely on old, dangerous technologies in cornered markets to support something as fundamental as our energy source, or whether this is the time to invest in and expand new, clean, burgeoning facets of our technological and economic infrastructure.

The current administration in the White House has made its choice clear. And, by excitedly snatching up its share of STEM funding and raising what will be a stunning new science center, it seems FSU has as well.

For prospective science students looking to attend FSU, the Hemenway expansion, brought on by a rigorous dedication to the STEM initiative, will be a primary selling point. The students will, in turn, contribute to the well-being of our institution. Upon leaving with a top-of-the-line education, they will contribute to our national economy and technological prowess, allowing the U.S. to keep up with its global rivals in regard to the rapidly advancing STEM fields.

And so, just as FSU is more than likely to produce the next great writer, teacher or fashion designer, so too can it now add scientist, nurse or mathematician to that list.

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