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 on January 28, 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.
The UTC Challenger Center opened in 1994 and was the first center integrated with a University Campus. The center’s educational opening was January 27, 1995 – right before the 9th anniversary of the Challenger Space Shuttle tragedy. It is formally aligned under the College of Education and has formed a strong relationship with the UTC Teachers Preparation Academy, the Hamilton County School System, and many other public and private educational entities. The Challenger programs serves approximately 8000 students and several hundred teachers each year in a service area that includes Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
Programs include simulated space missions that reinforce and introduce students to real-world applications of STEM principles, summer camps, teacher professional development workshops, and team building sessions for businesses and other organizations.