School districts and state-level public universities continue to invest in STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. But that investment isn’t just incorporating STEM programs into curriculum. Schools are also issuing contracts to renovate, modify and construct new facilities to create STEM classrooms.
Onvia’s comprehensive database of government contracting data contains thousands of opportunities for architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) firms to design and construct new STEM facilities or to refurbish existing facilities.
Investment in STEM Coming from State, Education Government Agencies
Overall purchasing within architecture, engineering and construction has been slightly down in 2016 – the growth rate in bid and RFP activity from Q2 2015 to Q2 2016 was -2.9%. But there were growth areas, including within education, up 0.5% over that same time period.
Opportunities to build and enhance STEM classrooms are a driver of that growth. Schools districts and state universities are putting money toward improvements to their facilities, accommodating changing curriculums that put a stronger focus on science, math and technology. A recent Brookings study found that “Skills common to STEM occupations are in short supply relative to demand and are valued more by employers.” With more STEM jobs available, schools are investing in education and classroom spaces designed to prepare students for these jobs.
In fact, some agencies are constructing entirely new million-dollar facilities from scratch specifically for housing STEM programs, such as the Centralia School District who recently awarded $3.6 million in state grant money to construct a 16,000 foot building. Others are renovating spaces within their current buildings for STEM use, as computer centers or chemistry labs, for example.
Both renovation and new construction plans are being created by school districts and public universities. School districts released 3,049 AEC bids and RFPs mentioning STEM in the last 12 months, and state-level agencies – largely universities – put out 2,927 such projects.
Creating STEM-focused spaces requires more than just filling a room with computers or science equipment. STEM classrooms should ideally be designed to be flexible, open spaces that encourage students to experiment and collaborate. This makes modern, forward thinking design and construction crucial for vendors bidding on these types of contracts.
Examples of Construction, Renovation, Architecture and Engineering STEM Projects
Below are representative opportunities of public sector contracts for STEM-related projects in the architecture, engineering and construction industries. These projects come from Onvia’s database of government contracting information.
Alterations to the Johnstown Middle School - Greater Johnstown School District, Pennsylvania
School Science Lab Upgrade - New York City School Construction Authority, New York
Architectural & Engineering Services Northeast Elementary School - Brighton School District 27J, Colorado
STEM Construction Creates Strong Civic Impact
The investment in improving STEM facilities has a direct civic impact. Much of the new construction and renovation being done will meet LEED certification, or will incorporate sustainable elements, such as a planned $30 million STEM building being planned by Eastern Michigan University that will meet LEED Silver criteria.
[Our] project aligns with the state of Michigan's well-articulated goal of preparing more students for STEM careers that contribute to the state's economy.James Smith, president of Eastern Michigan University
And the regional economies near these institutions can benefit long-term as well. Students with opportunities to learn in more advanced STEM facilities stand a better chance at being prepared to enter and succeed in a competitive job market.
The push for better STEM facilities can help architecture, engineering and construction vendors grow their government business. And those facilities, when completed, will help students to learn, land jobs and eventually help grow the economy.