Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

To ignite and nurture creative, ethical, scientific minds that advance the human condition.

Strategic Partnerships Spark Innovation

IMSA forges connections with organizations in the private and public sectors to combine financial and intellectual resources that lead to new bodies of knowledge, services and programs.  By working together, IMSA and its partners can make a greater impact in fulfilling a shared goal to stimulate excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education in Illinois and beyond.

IMSA-UIUC “Winning Formula” Partnership Connects Flagship Institutions

In May 2007, IMSA and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) executed a “Letter of Intent to Begin Formal Collaboration,” setting the stage for the design and development of a winning formula* partnership to: (1) strategically foster, encourage, and support the work of our students and alumni; (2) promote and advance the greatness and endurance of our brands; and (3) use our natural linkages to respond to the State's needs for talent and leadership development in STEM education and innovation.

Since then, IMSA and UIUC faculty and staff, with the support and leadership of Dr. B. Joseph White, president of U of I, Dr. Richard Herman, chancellor of UIUC, and Dr. Linda Katehi, provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs at UIUC, have been executing the winning formula agreement by:

* jointly researching students’ “state” of ethics, gender differences, and the impact of technology on learning.

* developing and implementing an online professional development model for middle and high school mathematics and science teachers statewide with a federal grant through the Illinois Board of Higher Education.   

* arranging unique research opportunities for IMSA students at UIUC. Last summer, two students worked at the UIUC Center for Nanoscale Chemical-Electrical-Mechanical Manufacturing Systems (Nano-CEMMS), a pilot supported by IMSA Fund donors.

* examining data on our shared alumni, including STEM degree attainment. Of note, 300 engineering degrees have been earned by the 618 IMSA graduates who completed Bachelor’s degrees at UIUC.

* participating in the Entrepreneurial Leadership in Science Teaching and Learning partnership (EnLiST) with a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant. EnList aims to develop and build a state-wide Illinois community of highly qualified science teacher leaders who will effectively contribute to the transformation of science teaching and learning throughout the K-12 educational continuum in their districts.  IMSA will provide Problem-Based Learning professional development to teacher leader participants.

Cathy Veal, IMSA vice president for strategy and innovation, calls UIUC an “essential thought and action partner” for IMSA’s third decade.  “With UIUC, we will learn, accomplish and provide to students, alumni, teachers and policymakers much more than we could possibly do on our own.”     

Contact:  Kristin Ciesemier, director of Strategic Institutional Partnerships,, 630-907-5036

*The term “winning formula” is borrowed from the 12/25/06 TIME magazine cover article in which PayPal co-founder Max Levchin said: "IMSA plus U. of I. is generally a very winning formula," producing “‘hard-core smart, hardworking, nonspoiled’ young engineers who are perfect for start-ups."  

The Golden Apple Foundation and IMSA Increase STEM Talent Pool

A $341,000 U.S. Department of Education Grant enabled the Golden Apple Foundation and IMSA to launch Summer Institutes for aspiring teachers who are currently majoring in mathematics or science. Classes for the aspiring Illinois teachers (Golden Apple Scholars), were held on IMSA’s campus last summer and were taught by Golden Apple award-winning teachers and by IMSA educators.  The participating Scholars also gained hands-on experience by facilitating the learning of Illinois youths who were enrolled in IMSA’s summer programs.  

“This unique program will develop teachers who have the knowledge, enthusiasm and spark to assure their students have rich opportunities to develop their skills and interests in mathematics and science and related careers,” said IMSA President Dr. Glenn “Max” McGee. “We are deeply grateful to Senator Richard Durbin [who secured the federal grant] for his leadership and investment in the work of IMSA and Golden Apple.” 

The Scholars received $2,000 to participate in the Summer Institute and $2,500 university tuition. In return for the program’s benefits, participants will teach for five years in an Illinois school designated as a school of need by Golden Apple.

IMSA Plays a Key Role in Illinois Innovation Talent Program

IMSA is playing a leading role in a statewide public/private partnership to promote innovation-centered education and increase student achievement in mathematics, science and technology.   Educators and students from 23 Illinois high schools work as teams alongside industry, government and community experts from 29 business/organization partners to solve real-world problems.  

Through workshops, on-site mentoring and on-site visits, IMSA is delivering professional development in Problem-Based Learning (PBL) to educators involved in the project. In PBL, students gather and apply knowledge from multiple disciplines in their quest for solutions or resolution to real-world problems. The process enhances critical thinking, creativity and collaboration, all skills needed to help Illinois compete in a competitive global economy.  

The Innovation Talent Program was developed as part of a National Governor's Association policy academy.  Innovation Talent’s advisory board included the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, iBIO, American Electronics Association (AeA), the Motorola Foundation, DePaul University, University of Illinois, Golden Apple Foundation, and Chicago LEADS. Government partners include Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA), Illinois Community College Board (ICCB), and the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE).

Partner Profile

UIUC Professor Dr. Lizanne DeStefano: Partnering for Transformative Education

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) College of Education Professor and Associate Dean Dr. Lizanne DeStefano says the IMSA-UIUC  Winning Formula partnership is the beginning of education that is both transformative and relevant to the state of Illinois. “What a powerful marriage to bring these two institutions together to try to advance and improve mathematics, science and technology education throughout the state of Illinois,” she said.  

DeStefano, the executive associate dean for research and administration in the UIUC College of Education says the IMSA-UIUC partnership is powerful and unique because of its shared interest and goals.  “I think that it is a new way of working for UIUC,” DeStefano said.  “We do have partnerships with other high schools in Illinois but for many years they have been ‘researcher-subject’ relationships,” she said.  “In this new generation, we’re trying to find ways that are mutually beneficial to both UIUC and college preparatory programs because we realize that all sectors must work together to face today’s educational challenges,” she added.

DeStefano said the partnership has already produced results. “We’ve already accomplished a lot,” DeStefano said.  One initiative is funded through a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant which would enable IMSA to work with UIUC to provide problem-based learning to teachers in elementary, middle and high schools in Illinois.  

“We think this project will be transformative and lead to highly-trained science teacher leaders at the local level,” she said.  “By working together in this powerful partnership, we can more effectively nurture and develop the STEM pipeline in Illinois.”