Project Definition

Statement of Need

Students today are under more pressure than ever before to be prepared to compete in a globally competitive marketplace. Research indicates that the United States has declined as a an innovative and global competitor and that our nation’s middle and high school students are lower performing than their peers in other developed countries. We are experiencing a shortage in native-born scientists and engineers. (National Research Council, 2007) In addition to this critical shortage of STEM professionals, minorities and females are particularly under-represented. (Frehill, DiFabio and Hill, 2008).

Clearly, science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) education has become more important than ever. In order to prepare students for their futures in this high-tech, fast-paced world, schools must find new ways to teach and engage students. Additionally, we must find ways for the creative arts to be integrated as well so that we may build creative thinkers and foster an environment that embraces the marriage of STEM studies with the arts (STEAM) to produce students with an entrepreneurial spirit, driven by their individual passions. 

As digital natives, students are receptive to STEAM education and creative technologies, and teachers must find effective ways to incorporate technology engineering and arts across the entire curriculum. Parents and students are demanding curriculum that offers the latest technological innovations and creative opportunities.

The Center for Innovation and Creativity in Education offers students an opportunity to develop 21st century skills that can inspire them toward careers in technology, programming, computer science, and mathematics and the arts. Not only is this approach a versatile platform to explore STEAM-rich research topics in robotics, computer science, man-made machine interaction, and social sciences but students will also be actively engaged in meaningful learning and problem solving. The Center for Innovation and Creativity in Education will energize science curricula, provide hands on experiments and engage and attract students of all levels. In addition, teachers will develop the skills needed to successfully integrate these concepts into their classroom and ultimately create a school environment that embraces innovative thinking and creativity, thus producing students who can compete in the 21st century global workforce. 

Project Activities

Project Purpose

  • Support best practices for achieving education reform and provide an environment that fosters innovation, creativity and growth for students and educators. 
  • Improve teaching and learning by exposing students and teachers to new technologies and teaching strategies aimed at preparing students to be creative problem solvers. 
  • Create a learning facility that provides a creative and collaborative K-12 work environment mirroring  that of today's global business environment. 
  • Create a space where educators can conduct action research.

WIU School Districts

  • Clairview School
  • Belle Vernon Area School District
  • Burrell School District
  • Derry Area School District
  • Franklin Regional School District
  • Greater Latrobe School District
  • Greensburg Salem School District
  • Hempfield Area School District
  • Jeannette City School District
  • Kiski Area School District
  • Ligonier Valley School District
  • Monessen City School District
  • Mount Pleasant Area School District
  • New Kensington-Arnold School District
  • Norwin School District
  • Penn Trafford School DIstrict
  • Southmoreland School District
  • Yough School District

Project Targets (Anticipated Outcomes)

  • Create innovative collaboration spaces
  • Create a "Makerspace"
  • Develop an institute for innovation 
  • Create Connections to Community and Businesses
  • Provide access to cutting edge technologies
  • Develop online training components
  • Develop summer programs students
  • Develop ASK (Autism Solution for Kids) NAO Initiative 
  • Conduct Action Research
  • Develop New Student Opportunities

How will this project impact our organization, schools, teachers and students?

  • More than 50,000 students, 2,000 teachers and numerous local businesses and community organizations will have access to the facility.
  • The facility will add services to districts that are part of the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit
  • The program will utilize existing high-speed connections between districts and the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit
  • Schools will have access to state-of-the-art technologies and processes
  • The program will impact autism classrooms throughout the county
  • Students and teachers will learn team strategies and creative problem solving skills
  • The program will strengthen STEAM initiatives in schools

Student Involvement in Facility Construction

The Westmoreland Intermediate will employ the services of the Westmoreland Career and Technology Centers. Students from these centers will assist with the following elements of construction:

  • Carpentry
  • Electrical 
  • Graphic Design
  • Painting and Decorating
  • Construction


By providing state-of-the-art facilities and resources, the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit will create a center that will focus on Innovation and creativity, leading Westmoreland County school districts through the process of transforming their schools to accommodate the needs of the 21st Century K-12 student. All schools will have access to tools and training that would otherwise be very difficult to provide at the district level.  

Measurable Objectives:

  1. District Contributions to the Project
  2. Facility Design
  3. Implement a project timeline. 


  • Facility Design
  • Project Plan
  • Preliminary Budget
  • Project Website
  • Grant Application
  • Online Training Components
  • ASK NAO Implementation Plan
  • Summer Institutes

Subpages (1): Hummingbird Robotics