UTC’s Challenger Learning and Teaching Center has a new name. Dr. Richard G. Rhoda, Executive Director of Tennessee’s Higher Education Commission (THEC) recently approved a name change from the Challenger Learning and Teaching Center to the Challenger STEM Learning Center.

Dr. Phil Oldham, UTC provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, requested the name change and official recognition to ensure a greater statewide understanding of the role that the Challenger STEM Learning Center performs for UTC.

“While we at UTC are aware of the Center’s role, many people across the state are not. The Challenger Center was STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) focused since it’s opening in 1994 and makes it the first such center in the state, and the first to be located on a college campus nationally,” said Oldham.

Tom Patty, Director of the Challenger STEM Learning Center said the Center is a living testimony to the dream of the Challenger crew.

“When the crew of the Challenger space shuttle perished in 1986, they were on a pioneering mission to extend the boundaries of human knowledge. Challenger Centers are continuing that mission today by preparing students for life,” said Patty.

The Challenger STEM Learning Center focuses on programs that support and enhance learning for the region’s kindergarten through eighth grade students.

“It’s amazing how long the Challenger experience remains with students.  I have, on numerous occasions, shared a discussion with adults who recall their visit as a student and can still recall what their individual responsibilities were, it’s simply amazing,” said Patty.

The Challenger STEM Learning Center is part of an international network of centers that include nearly 50 locations in the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, and South Korea. Their goal is to engage students in math and science education while building communication, collaborative, and critical thinking skills through hands on simulated space missions.

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