A Shining Light

A Vanderbilt-based pipeline, founded seven years ago, is fulfilling a critical need of another type—bringing the support of a research university and professionals in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to rural teachers, students and school districts. The Aspirnaut program targets STEM achievement in students beginning in elementary school and continues through post-graduate training. The hypothesis is that achievement in STEM increases the odds of a student’s entry into a STEM profession.

Julie K. Hudson, M.D., assistant vice chancellor for Health Affairs at VUMC and the program’s director and co-founder, says the Aspirnaut program’s K-20 STEM pipeline has many points of entry.

"A student could engage in grades K-3, grades 3-5, middle school, high school, college, graduate school and beyond or anywhere along the way. And early engagement of students with STEM is key.”