STEM leaders pitch project to governor

Area leaders in education and technology had a willing ear in Gov. Terry Branstad Monday as they talked about a proposed initiative as part of the STEM push.

Branstad visited Howgan in Marshalltown Monday to talk about an effort of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics initiative.

This idea would have a trailer that goes around to Marshall County schools and other locations and it would include training on grain management. This trailer would include the latest in technology and certify students to be able to increase grain bin safety and decrease the loss of grain due to moisture in the bins.

Branstad said STEM programs continue to grow in Iowa.

“Iowa has moved forward very fast in this area,” Branstad said. “I think this is an area where there is an opportunity to go much farther.”

The “pitch group” included Scott Haugan, president of Howgan, Iowa State officials, principals and superintendents from the schools in Marshall County and leaders at Iowa Valley Continuing Education.

“All of the school districts in Marshall County are committed to STEM and to virtual reality,” said Marvin Wade, superintendent of the Marshalltown Community School District.

The trailer project is still in the planning phase as the group searches for more partners and grant funding. There are plans to have it up and running sometime in 2014.

“We’ll make it happen,” Haugan said.

Haugan’s company works with security systems and other technology in the agricultural business and has been on the cutting edge of grain bin safety programs.

This training could fit students who may not want to go on to four-year colleges right away and look to get trained in a field right away with a job sooner rather than later.

“A lot of the kids don’t want to go into debt to get their education,” said Rex Kozak, principal at East Marshall High School.

By having this trailer in place with the latest in technology, school leaders feel learning will thrive.

“Having technology accelerate learning is vitally critical,” said Marshalltown High School Principal Aiddy Phomvisay.

Contact Andrew Potter at 641-753-6611 or