Convergence Lead, Arizona STEM Acceleration Project
Mike Vargas is a 20-year veteran Physics teacher who is a founding member of the Cactus Caucus, a group of Arizona Physics teachers who helped pass legislation to advance science teacher education in Arizona. This effort led to the Arizona Department of Education’s Get Set for STEM program which aimed to increase the number of higher-level STEM teachers state wide. This initiative helped increase the number of physics teachers in Arizona by nearly 20%. Mike is also a founding member of STEMteachersPHX and has extensive ties to the Arizona Science Teachers Association, the American Modeling Teachers Association, and the American Association of Physics Teachers. Mike served as a board member to the Northern Arizona University K12 Center and has been an active participant in the Arizona Education Foundations efforts to promote STEM education with its TeachSTEM program. Mike has served on the Air Force Association National Aerospace Council for the last few years and co-led the Space Force’s first national education project, “STEM to Space”. Mike served on the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Strategic Partnerships Interagency Working Group and served as a Department of Defense Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow to the Department of the Air Force K12 STEM National Office. Mike was a 2-year fellow with prior service in the Department of Defense’s Strategic Manufacturing Education Workforce Development program. Mike has worked to advance the message of STEM for ALL through policy work, professional development, and community outreach. Mike brings an extensive network of collaborators and detailed understanding of the needs of teachers, schools, and STEM organizations to his many projects. His policy and strategic partnership experience has been essential for the creation of the Arizona State University’s newest initiative -The Arizona STEM Acceleration Project. A ten-million-dollar effort to accelerate the Arizona STEM Education Ecosystem.