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Jobs related to science, technology, engineering and math – collectively known as STEM – are expected to increase significantly for the foreseeable future, outpacing gains in all other occupations.

The U.S. Department of Education noted on its website recently it’s important we equip our students with the skills they need to pursue these fields, for their future success and the development of the nation.

North Iowa is doing its part, thanks to a $9.3 million project at North Iowa Area Community College.

NIACC’s STEM Center, completed this summer, includes a 15,000-square-foot addition to the south end of McAllister Hall and the remodeling of the building’s math and science area.

Mason City’s Henkel Construction built the addition; Bergland + Cram designed the space with input from the college’s faculty.

Nikae Perkinson, chemistry instructor, is understandably proud of the center. “The labs are amazing,” she said, while pointing out the use of advanced technology and equipment throughout. “They give us renewed credibility, like this is the real deal.” Perkinson added the space better prepares students who transfer to a four-year college or university.

NIACC President Steve Schulz said enrollment in science classes is up 23 percent this semester and acknowledged the connection between improved facilities and growth. NIACC is also working to boost long-term enrollment as well; a collaboration with middle school students is designed to bring teens into the chemistry rooms and get them excited about a science career.

NIACC deserves credit for completing a project that addresses a significant need and the community deserves credit for providing the necessary support to make it happen.

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Local editorials represent the opinion of the Globe Gazette editorial board, which consists of Publisher Samuel Gett, Editor David Mayberry, News Editor Ashley Miller and Regional Editor Jim Cross. Contact the board or send letters to news@globegazette.com.

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