Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has been an integral part of the Prescott community since its establishment in 1978, nearly 40 years ago. Together, Prescott and Embry-Riddle have become home to tomorrow’s leaders in aviation and formed a reputation for excellence in the skies. Yet Embry-Riddle has refused to rest upon its laurels, challenging itself and its curriculum to forge new standards of excellence in industries beyond aviation. In 2012, the university revealed its vision for a new, state-of-the-art Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) learning center that would revolutionize Embry-Riddle, its Prescott home and surrounding Quad Cities area.
Incoming students of the 2017 Fall Semester will be the first to see, experience, and utilize this new state-of-the-art campus facility – the only one of its kind in Northern Arizona: The STEM Education Center.
The two-story building covers 52,000 square feet of space and contains over 20 industry-grade laboratories, replete with innovative equipment unique to each STEM program the university offers. Besides engineering programs, the facility supports degrees in astronomy, forensic biology, space physics, wildlife science and the new bachelor’s degree in Simulations Science, Gaming and Animation.
The $22 million center also includes the community-friendly Jim and Linda Lee Planetarium – the only Arizona planetarium north of Phoenix – capable of seating 125 students and visitors for captivating explorations into the furthest reaches of the universe in full 360-degree high definition.
The STEM Center’s completion comes at an exciting time for ERAU, highlighting a period of extraordinary growth in student enrollment, approaching an all-time high of 2,600 students—prompting campus infrastructure investments in excess of $45 million. These investments have included a new residence hall and an expanded, updated Eagle Athletic Complex – where the Men’s and Women’s Basketball, Women’s Volleyball, and Wrestling teams compete in the CAL PAC conference.
With increased student enrollment comes the potential for amplified community involvement and economic growth to Prescott. Embry-Riddle draws its student body from all 50 states and dozens of foreign nations, resulting in an incredibly diverse campus that recognizes Prescott’s small town appeal. It is here that students develop the academic foundations of their future professional careers while becoming active members of the community before graduation.
These students’ arrival to Prescott generates a positive economic impact of $278 million annually, affecting the community in both direct and indirect spending. This influences Quad Cities business owners in a myriad of ways, including a demand for off campus student housing, local restaurants, grocery stores, service stations, hotels and other retail merchants. As Embry-Riddle continues to produce an increased demand for STEM-based industries in Prescott, the university’s growth could signal long-term economic development in the area for decades.
ERAU’s STEM Center was built to serve a wider audience than just university students and faculty. Between its impressive lab facilities and remarkable planetarium, the STEM Center will become an invaluable resource for local middle and high schools, as well as an epicenter for community engagement events year-round. This research-rich campus environment is capable of influencing local students and underrepresented groups in the community who previously had little to no access to STEM-based curriculum – such as young women and minorities – by exposing them to the possibilities of careers in high-paying professions that might have otherwise been unattainable.
In 2018, Embry-Riddle celebrates its 40th anniversary in Prescott, during which time both have collaborated in the development, cultivation and enrichment of thousands of students who have at one time or another called Prescott their home. Just as Embry-Riddle has continued to challenge itself and utilize the newest technology and training techniques for the benefit of its students, so has it sought to strengthen the bond between its campus and the Prescott community. The deepening of this partnership is vital to the fulfillment of Embry-Riddle’s mission: to prepare the next generation of leaders with a value-driven, globally aware academic foundation, comprised of strong technical, human relations and conceptual skills needed for success in business and public administration—across the Prescott community, within state of Arizona and around the world. QCBN
By Keaton S. Ziem
Keaton S. Ziem is with Digital Strategy and Business Intelligence at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. For more information, visit prescott.erau.edu, contact Prescott Campus Admissions at 928-777-6600 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.