The UCF College of Education is creating a program that will teach scientists, engineers and math professionals how to apply their skills as educators in America’s classrooms.

Working with local school districts, the college is using a federal $10 million Race to the Top grant to develop a program that will put STEM professionals in classrooms to help students understand and get excited about these challenging topics.

The program was created in response to the demand for a skilled workforce in the science, engineering and math industries. Technology has led to growth in those areas, but difficulties lay in teaching kids the value of STEM and preparing them to work in those fields.

For the next two years, the Resident Teacher Professional Preparation Program (RTP3) will guide 140 individuals with degrees in science, technology, engineering and math as they earn teaching degrees and apply their STEM expertise as educators in Florida’s classrooms.

The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top competition, which has awarded more than $4 billion in federal aid to 12 states since 2009. Race to the Top, part of a broader national effort to improve school achievement, awards states that agree to take on ambitious education reforms.

UCF’s partners in the grant include the Florida Virtual School and the school districts in Orange, Seminole, Volusia and Lake counties.

“We are so pleased to be working with such strong partners in meeting the critical need for teachers in the STEM fields,” said Sandra Robinson, dean of the College of Education. “This is a tremendous opportunity for the College of Education to bring a measure of added value to schools throughout Central Florida.”

The RTP3 program is open to those who have earned undergraduate degrees in a STEM field since 2008 and have no experience teaching. Participants will become students working toward Master of Arts in Teaching degrees, awarded by UCF’s School of Teaching, Learning and Leadership.

Seventy students will be admitted into the 15-month program this spring, and 70 more will be admitted in spring 2013. Grant funding will cover all aspects of the program, including tuition costs for the students.

The educational component of the program will begin in May, when students will use simulation software developed by Lockheed Martin to learn the fundamentals of teaching and instruction. They also will practice working with students in a classroom with TLE TeachLivE, the classroom simulator developed by UCF College of Education Professor Lisa Dieker.

In August, the students will be hired as teachers at schools in partnering districts, where they will teach math and science to students in grades 6-12.

In the classrooms, the UCF students will assess areas in which middle and high schoolers are weakest and tweak their instruction to address their needs. They also will incorporate feedback from industry on what is needed in classrooms.

“We want to develop a national model,” said Associate Professor Rosemarye Taylor, who is leading the project with College of Education faculty members Janet Andreasen and Erhan Selchuk Haciomeroglu.

“We’re gathering data, learning what works and what doesn’t, and refining the program before we hand it over to the Department of Education in 2014,” Taylor said.

The deadline to apply for entry into this year’s program is Sunday, April 15. For more information or to apply, e-mail [email protected].