By Max Crampton-Thomas
2 min read September 2019 — To be considered a staple within the growing economic landscape of Broward County is no small accomplishment, especially as new options seem to become available to the public on a weekly basis. There has to be a real sense of connection and purpose formed with the public, as well as being an established economic driver, for a business or institution to achieve this status. Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale had the opportunity to speak with Joseph Cox, the President & CEO of one of the staples of Broward County the Museum of Discovery and Science. Throughout the course of the discussion Mr. Cox made note of how the museum is working to address the lack of STEM workforce in Broward, how they are using new technology to their benefit, the counties support of institutions like the museum and the museum’s important role as an economic driver in the region.
How is the museum helping to address the lack of STEM workforce in Broward County?
South Florida is powered by industries that thrive on a strong, vibrant STEM workforce. From aviation to tech, there is a unique voice in the local workforce of innovators, tinkerers and problem-solvers. The Museum of Discovery & Science plays a crucial role in the community by introducing children of all ages to the exciting opportunities offered by careers in STEM. We recently opened The Leighton Family Hangar, our innovative Makerspace exhibit, a hands-on collaborative experience that fosters the learning of new skills, creating products and sharing ideas. Through partnerships with corporations, universities, technical colleges and, of course, our local school system, we will be offering an exciting range of programs and events that allow students to gain valuable skills for their future and ultimately our community’s future. The Hangar will inspire new generations to embrace the engineering design process as they develop, innovate and problem-solve.
How important is the adaptation of new technologies to a science museum?
One of our goals at MODS is to connect people to inspiring science, and this includes state-of-the-art technology. Technology at the Museum is powered by our most vital resource: our staff and their creativity. Innovative technology is one of the tools our staff uses to help bring the exhibitions and programs to life. We are experimenting with the integration of augmented and mixed reality in exhibits and educational programs, as it truly is an opportunity to contribute to a new path of learning in museums. We are thrilled to have strong partnerships with Broward-based technology companies such as Citrix, Florida Power & Light and Magic Leap that allow us to drive innovation and technology forward in an accessible and meaningful way.
What is your view of the county’s support for arts and cultural institutions?
The Broward County Cultural Division clearly champions the arts in our community. The Cultural Division’s ongoing investment in cultural programming, public art and capital projects reflects the value attributed to the arts by the County. We are fortunate to have an incredibly vibrant cultural community where collaboration is celebrated. The Museum considers the Cultural Division a partner as we work together to strengthen local cultural offerings, from exciting exhibits and award-winning education programs to breathtaking IMAX documentaries.
How is the museum an economic driver in the Broward County region?
Beyond the cultural impact of the Museum, we also play a role in the local economy, with 150 employees and more than 400,000 visitors annually. A recent Americans for the Arts survey estimated our economic impact to be more than $22 million. The Museum purchases goods and services locally, hires and trains staff and supports many social service agencies with free and reduced admission. Whether having lunch in the neighborhood or traveling from out of town for the weekend, our visitors help drive the local economy and, with over 15% of our visitors coming from overseas, we are supporting the diverse offerings of our destination.
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