By Angel Ulmer

Young students who enjoy the fun of a mission at the UTC Challenger STEM Learning Center will always remember their responsibilities in space or as a member of mission control.  The new director of the facility says the fun isn’t just for children—businesses can explore a new level of trust among coworkers with team building exercises.

Perry Storey, who was named Director in July, sees the Challenger STEM Learning Center as “an opportunity to partner with campus and community.” He wants campus and off-campus groups to consider the Center as the spot for business retreats.

Storey will also launch a new virtual mission in spring 2013 semester called Tennessee River Crisis. Designed for groups with limited resources but a strong desire to share the experience, this internet-based program will appeal to schools, the private sector, and non-profits.

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As an alumnus with two degrees from UTC, Storey is happy to be working on campus. He was previously employed at UTC in the 1970s as a work study student in Student Services and Housing and Residential Life Departments. He and his brother were first generation college students; therefore, he fully understands the importance of exposing students to a campus environment.

A resident of the Chattanooga area for more than 40 years, Storey met his wife Cindy, also twice-graduated from UTC, while they were students.  They were married thirty-five years ago in Patten Chapel.

“Working at the Challenger Learning Center is full circle for me — it’s a great fit,” Storey said.

Before joining the Challenger Learning Center, Storey’s previous posts included the North Georgia Regional Planning Commission, Cleveland State Community College and Notre Dame High School, where he was a teacher and principal for 18 years. Storey said the UTC alumni hired to teach at Notre Dame had excellent preparation by their education professors.

Vision of the UTC Challenger STEM Learning Center:

The UTC Challenger STEM Learning Center is a member of the National Challenger Center Network that has 45 centers located in the United States, Great Britain, South Korea and Canada. The Challenger Centers were built as a living memorial for the crew of the Challenger Space Shuttle mission that ended in tragedy in January of 1986. Their mission was one of education with the first teacher Christa McAuliffe being a member of the crew. Today that education mission still lives in the Challenger Centers where students can explore hands-on science, technology, engineering and math programs.

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