Career Connect Southwest

Focused on the Vancouver, WA region, Career Connect Southwest (formerly the Southwest Washington STEM Network) works to ensure all students in the region have the knowledge, skills, and experiences that unlock futures, a prosperous economy, and innovation.

Career Connect Southwest

Focused on the Vancouver, WA region, Career Connect Southwest (formerly the Southwest Washington STEM Network) works to ensure all students in the region have the knowledge, skills, and experiences that unlock futures, a prosperous economy, and innovation.
Vickei Hrdina
Director of STEM Initiatives, Career Connect Southwest


Career Connect Southwest is working to ensure that every student in the region has the knowledge, skills, and experiences that can unlock futures, build a globally engaged community, ensure a prosperous economy, and inspire innovation.

STEM by the Numbers

Washington STEM’s annual STEM by the Numbers reports let us know if the system is supporting more students, especially students of color, students living in poverty and/or rural backgrounds, and young women, to be on track to attain high-demand credentials.

View Career Connect Southwest’s STEM by the Numbers report here.

Programs + Impact


Much about school is different right now, but it’s as important as ever for our students to prepare for work so they can find a meaningful and rewarding career after graduation. Serving as both the STEM Network and Career Connected Learning Network, the region has received $200,000 in generous funding from Career Connect Washington to continue to facilitate programs to bring students and industry professionals together. ESD 112 also received $150,000 towards a dedicated Career Connected Learning coordinator who works with a network of nine ESD based coordinators, working in partnership with the program specialist at OSPI.

The virtual environment, while not ideal in every way, has allowed us to match students with professionals outside their home communities. For example, our team connected Wahkiakum High School students with professionals to explore careers in various engineering fields. In November, students from Wahkiakum met with a panel including a software engineer from Portland, an aerospace engineer from Bothell, an electrical engineer from Minneapolis, and a mechanical engineer from Camas. Additionally, our team will soon facilitate online resume writing workshop, virtual speed networking events, and even fully-online science and engineering fairs for middle and high school students.

In July 2020, 15 math and science educators from across the region completed an externship program visiting school facilities, active construction sites, and construction-related businesses in an effort to become better acquainted with the current and future needs of the industry.


The STEM Initiatives Team at Career Connect Southwest has invested in several programs to meet families where they are and provide simple, fun ways to support our youngest learners in engaging in STEM. Since 2017, Math Anywhere! has been working to create place-based media and visiting with children and their grown-ups in different community spaces to share our ideas.

In 2020, we pivoted our Math@The Movies to a home version that families could play with their favorite streaming service. Though the first day of school looked different, we provided 1,500 families with Kindergarten Welcome Boxes containing STEM at Home and Math Anywhere activities.

STEM Swap! Is a free preschool robotics loan program for all providers in the ESD112 Childcare Aware consortium. We know that students benefit from early learning about pattern recognition, sequencing, decomposing problems, and creating solutions. In 2020, we built a network of over 20 at-home childcare providers and by the end of July 2021 we will reach close to 1,500 toddlers.


nPower Gorge Girls, a collaboration between Career Connect Southwest and South Central STEM Network, seeks to highlight family-wage and in-demand career paths to students in the Gorge while also providing those students with strong women role models from their own communities. Starting in late 2020, middle school girls began working with dynamic local women in STEM on solutions for real-world science problems. The students each created a design for a solution, then selected prototyping materials from an online inventory. The materials they requested were delivered to their homes and they got to work building their model. Later, the girls shared their creations with their mentor and each other virtually, to offer and receive feedback and encouragement.

STEM STORIES See All Stories
Earth-to-Space: It's the West Sound STEM Network
On December 12 1,000 students from the West Sound STEM Network spoke with NASA astronauts living, working and doing research aboard the International Space Station.
Inslee awards $6 million to create apprenticeship and career connections for 29,000 youth in 11 communities
STEM learning experiences, job shadows, career planning, internships, and apprenticeships become available thanks to new Career Connect Washington grant funding.
Kaiser Permanente: Supporting STEM, Educating Our Future Health Care Workforce
Susan Mullaney, President of Kaiser Permanente Washington, speaks on the importance of equality in STEM education and the positive impact it has on health care workforce development at the 2017 Washington STEM Summit at Microsoft.
STEM Like ME! introduces students to real STEM
Inspiring students to pursue careers in engineering starts in the classroom. STEM Like ME! empowers teachers to introduce STEM professionals into the classroom to educate students about what careers are available to them.
Support STEM