To close the equity gaps and vastly expand IMSA’s reach, IMSA plans to establish three or four innovation hubs throughout the state to serve local students and educators. We will also partner with a college or university in each region, sharing their space and collaborating through experiential learning opportunities—providing a combination of research, internships, entrepreneurship programs, college-level course work, and turnkey curriculum and training for area educators. Each hub would specialize in distinct areas of STEM cybersecurity, quantum computing, and others—aligned with the economic opportunities and needs of its specific region.
By investing in hubs in various regions of Illinois, many more K-12 students will have the chance to experience a slice of the IMSA experience. For example, a high-school student could take courses on agriculture in the hub in their home town of Carbondale and then study for several months at the AI center at our Aurora campus. Another student could take a single cybersecurity class or engage in an internship at a new hub in, say, Chicago. More students could also gain access to summer camps and enrichment programs at the hubs, offering them new pathways to a career in STEM and the chance to contribute to their local communities and beyond. And we’d be able to significantly expand our professional- development workshops for K-12 teachers on how to effectively teach our model STEM curricula in their classes.
We are exploring a partnership with Southern Illinois University to pilot the first two innovation hubs at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Southern Illinois University Carbondale beginning next academic year.