New director focused on increasing STEM education pipeline

12.03.2014 | By Jeannie Peng-Armao

Dr. Janis Fowler named San Jacinto College Aerospace Academy director

Dr. Janis Fowler has been named director of the Aerospace Academy at San Jacinto College.

Dr. Fowler brings with her more than a decade of experience working in higher education, having previously served in various roles, including director of resource development with Lone Star College. She also has worked for the Corporation for Economic Development of Harris County and for the City of Houston. In her new role with San Jacinto College, Fowler says her goal for the Aerospace Academy is to assist each stage of the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education pipeline.

"Our mission is to connect K-12 and college students with educational and career opportunities within the aerospace and STEM fields," said Dr. Fowler. "We would like to encourage more students to enter STEM related fields and provide exciting experiences to all students particularly in aerospace, being that we are fortunate to work closely with the NASA-Johnson Space Center."

The Aerospace Academy is well on its way, having recently received a grant from NASA's Office of Education National Space Grant and Fellowship Program of $498,458, part of a national $17.3 million grant program to increase student and faculty engagement in STEM at community colleges and technical schools across the United States. Dr. Fowler said San Jacinto College will work alongside six other community colleges from across the state to provide internships, educational experiences, and academic scholarships.

"The initiative started with more community colleges increasing STEM education programs, and now it is time to connect and leverage our endeavors to prepare our students for the future workforce," said Dr. Fowler, who holds previous experience overseeing $22 million in competitive funding. "This is a unique opportunity - one for higher education institutions to work together to create synergy for STEM education thereby increasing the number of students pursuing STEM careers."

Dr. Fowler added that the Academy will continue to increase outreach experiences through youth camps for K-12 students, STEM internships for college students, and professional development for educators in STEM. In recent years, the Aerospace Academy has hosted a series of underwater robotics camps and geocaching camps and projects alongside NASA, such as the Robotics, Ocean, Microgravity Explorers (ROME) Challenge at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at NASA-Johnson Space Center.

"We want to reach out to those students who otherwise would never get the chance to experience these types of STEM projects and activities," said Dr. Fowler. "That is one of our goals, to reach students from all backgrounds and to inspire and give them more opportunities to successfully obtain those lucrative careers in the Houston workforce.”

The San Jacinto College Aerospace Academy is charged to collaborate with education, industry, government, economic development and community groups to advance aerospace and STEM career development. It has served as a partner with the NASA-Johnson Space Center Office of Education for more than 10 years on various projects.

“This is an exciting time for our Aerospace Academy,” said Dr. Sarah Janes, vice president of the San Jacinto College Continuing and Professional Development division, where the Aerospace Academy is housed. “We welcome Dr. Fowler as the new Aerospace Academy director and look forward to strengthening our collaborations to produce people who are highly-trained and educated within the STEM fields for tomorrow’s workforce.”

About the Continuing and Professional Development division
This noncredit division of the College provides training for both current and future employees in the professional and technical job sectors, as well as provides participants with open enrollment course options to enhance their lives. Professional and technical training is available through contract training, open enrollment and grant funding. For more information, call 281-476-1838.

About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of approximately 30,000 credit students. The College offers 186 degrees and certificates, with 46 technical programs and a university transfer division. Students benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success, and job training programs that are renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.

For more information about San Jacinto College, please call 281-998-6150, visit http://www.sanjac.edu, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.