GE, OCAST and OSSM Partner to Launch “STEM Empowers OK”

stem empowers ok

  • GE Foundation donates $400,000 to enhance STEM education initiatives across Oklahoma
  • STEM Empowers OK to sponsor week-long, GE Summer Science Academy at OSSM for Oklahoma students
  • GE and OCAST to hold statewide open innovation challenge for middle and high school students
  • Donation to support internship, mentoring and scholarship opportunities, including a new GE STEM Pioneer Scholarship Award, created to inspire Oklahoma students to pursue STEM careers


OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – April 21, 2015 – The GE Foundation, the philanthropic organization of GE, today announced a donation of $400,000 to the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) to launch STEM Empowers OK – a statewide initiative to engage and inspire greater interest among high school students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

As part of STEM Empowers OK, GE will sponsor a weeklong STEM program for up to 50 students at the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics (OSSM) in late July and launch an open innovation challenge later this fall.  The Open Innovation Challenge will invite students (grades 6-12) from schools across the state to share their ideas on ways to build a better and stronger Oklahoma. The Challenge will be led by OCAST, which leads the state’s technology-based economic development efforts.  As part of the launch plans, OCAST will host regional innovation forums, bringing local industry, academia and economic development officials together for in-depth, regional discussions on building an active and productive innovation economy.

In addition to the weeklong STEM program and open innovation challenge, funding from the GE Foundation also will support several internship, mentoring and scholarship opportunities for Oklahoma students as well as a new summer GE STEM Fellowship program for Oklahoma teachers. This program will pair teachers with mentors in STEM-related occupations with participating companies from around the state.  GE will be involved in the program through its Global Research Oil and Gas Technology Center under construction in Oklahoma City, across the street from OSSM at the corner of 10th and Walnut Avenue.   GE will work with OCAST to identify other technology and innovation-driven Oklahoma companies to participate as well.

GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt said, “Through STEM Empowers OK, we will engage a new generation of scientists and engineers across Oklahoma. We could not ask for better partners than OCAST and OSSM.  These organizations support new entrepreneurs and future scientists and engineers who are motivated to solve the world’s toughest challenges.”

Immelt, in Oklahoma City this week for GE’s annual Shareowners Meeting, announced the launch of STEM Empowers OK during a special event today held on the OSSM campus. He was joined by OCAST Executive Director Michael Carolina; Frank Wang, Ph.D., president of OSSM; a host of state and local government, business and community leaders; faculty and students from OSSM, and other GE business leaders, including GE Chief Technology Officer Mark Little, Deborah Elam, GE chief diversity officer and president of the GE Foundation, and Mike Ming, general manager of GE’s new Oil & Gas Technology Center.

According to Elam, the GE Foundation’s investment in Oklahoma reflects GE’s commitment to skills development for the future. “Growth and development go hand in hand with educational excellence, strength in science, technology and math, and a capable, quality workforce,” she said.

Michael Carolina, executive director of OCAST, said, “We’re thrilled to partner with GE and OSSM in expanding STEM education opportunities for students across Oklahoma.  Our state’s economy has been historically shaped by pioneers who have broken the mold in energy and other major industries with new technologies.  The best investments we can make to continue this forward-looking future is to inspire, teach and recognize the next generation of scientists and engineers who lead innovation in our state and nation.”

Frank Wang, Ph.D., president of OSSM, said, “En route to class every school day, students pass a plaque that declares ‘The future of the future is the present.’  GE’s investment in the STEM Empowers OK initiative is the investment today that will ensure a stronger and more vibrant Oklahoma and nation tomorrow.  I am confident that this initiative will inspire many more Oklahoma students to explore and pursue careers in STEM-related fields and ultimately lead them to helping solve the challenges that face our state and nation.”

GE Summer Science Academy

Officials from OCAST and OSSM will jointly manage the participation of students and the schedule of activities for the weeklong Summer Science Academy, which will take place the week of July 20.  The two organizations will work closely with local school districts across Oklahoma to select up to 50 students to attend the Academy.  The GE Foundation grants will cover the expenses of students to attend the academy.

STEM Empowers OK Open Innovation Challenge and Regional Innovation Forums

Later this fall, OCAST will launch a statewide open innovation challenge for students (grades 6-12).  The challenge will be launched at a forthcoming regional innovation forum that OCAST will hold with local industry, academia and economic development officials.

The challenge will involve students offering inventions and solutions to help solve a real world problem in one of three major industries tied most closely to Oklahoma’s business ecosystem – energy, aviation and transportation. Winners will receive scholarships and other awards in recognition of their efforts. The specific rules and guidelines for the challenge will be established in the coming weeks, with support and input from a team of scientists and engineers from GE’s Oil & Gas Technology Center in Oklahoma City.

GE’s new center in Oklahoma City is GE’s newest global research facility and the only one dedicated to a specific industry – the oil & gas industry.  The Oklahoma research and technology center is part of a global network of nine research and development facilities located around the world driving cutting-edge technologies to solve real world problems.

GE STEM Pioneer Scholarship Award

GE will offer internship, mentorship and scholarship opportunities through the STEM Empowers OK initiative.  OCAST will manage these opportunities with private industry across the state of Oklahoma.  As part of the GE Foundation’s donation, a portion will be set aside for the GE STEM Pioneer Scholarship Award.  This award will recognize a senior graduating in the summer of 2016 through a competitive application process that is open to all 12th graders statewide. The winner will receive a paid summer internship at GE’s new Oil & Gas Technology Center in Oklahoma City next summer and a tuition award toward their first year of college later that fall.  The applications will be made available at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year, with the winner being announced in early 2016.



The Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) is a state agency charged with leading Oklahoma’s technology-based economic development efforts, supporting the efforts of start-ups and entrepreneurs to transform promising innovations from concepts into commercial products. OCAST also is an active supporter of STEM education across Oklahoma’s common education system and provides funding to support internships between local industries and two- and four- year colleges and universities.

About OSSM

The Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics (OSSM) is a state-funded, residential high school for junior and senior students with exceptional ability in science and math who plan to pursue careers in STEM related fields. Students from across the state have the opportunity to apply to OSSM during their sophomore year at their home high schools. Admission to the school is a highly competitive process.  Approximately 250-300 young adults apply each year for some 70-80 placements.   Eighty-five percent of OSSM alumni have remained in technical/scientific fields in their career pursuits and most have chosen to remain in Oklahoma.

About GE

GE (NYSE: GE) imagines things others don’t, builds things others can’t and delivers outcomes that make the world work better. GE brings together the physical and digital worlds in ways no other company can. In its labs and factories and on the ground with customers, GE is inventing the next industrial era to move, power, build and cure the world.

About the GE Foundation

The GE Foundation, the philanthropic organization of GE, is committed to building a world that works better. We empower people by helping them build the skills they need to succeed in a global economy. We equip communities with the technology and capacity to improve access to better health and education. We elevate ideas that are tackling the world’s toughest challenges to advance economic development and improve lives. The GE Foundation is powered by the generosity and talent of our employees, who have a strong commitment to their communities. We are at work making the world work better. Follow the GE Foundation at and on Twitter at @GE_Foundation.