updated 9/16/2010 8:17:15 AM ET 2010-09-16T12:17:15

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 16, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) announced today that it has joined Change the Equation (CTEq), a CEO-led initiative to cultivate widespread literacy in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Northrop Grumman Chief Executive Officer and President Wes Bush will join other CEOs and STEM leaders in the official launch of CTEq at a Sept. 16 White House event hosted by President Obama.

CTEq evolved as a result of the first Educate to Innovate event in November 2009, when President Obama named five leading business and thought leaders to head an effort to improve American student participation and performance in STEM fields. The Educate to Innovate campaign mission is to increase private and philanthropic involvement in STEM education, which is necessary to meet the critical need for a workforce and a citizenry fluent in science and math.

"Northrop Grumman is pleased to become a member of CTEq, which is being launched during National Aerospace Week," said Sandra Evers-Manly, vice president of corporate responsibility for Northrop Grumman and president of the Northrop Grumman Foundation. "Our nation's leaders, including President Obama through his 'Educate to Innovate' initiative, recognize the need to strengthen STEM education in the United States. We are committed to this mission and we have developed unique, sustainable and national-level programs that inspire interest in STEM subjects. The Northrop Grumman Foundation Weightless Flights of Discovery program, now in its fifth year, is very much aligned with this important national goal."

The Weightless Flights of Discovery program was launched with the goal of inspiring teachers, who would in turn inspire their students to pursue STEM education. As part of the program, more than 1,150 practicing classroom middle school teachers and future middle school teachers have had the opportunity to participate in hands-on science workshops, and perform and experiment in a parabolic or "zero-gravity" aircraft flight that creates temporary weightlessness comparable to what humans would experience during space travel to the moon or Mars.

By joining Change the Equation, Northrop Grumman is working together with top companies across multiple sectors, all of which are dedicated to preparing students for STEM-related careers as an investment in their business, the economy and our nation. Through innovative and effective company-led programs, CTEq aims to fill the opportunity gap with capable and enthusiastic STEM-literate young people. It is the first and only STEM education group that brings so many corporate leaders together in collaboration with the White House, statehouses nationwide, and the foundation community.

"CTEq will establish a set of criteria that guides the organization and its member companies in defining program success, said Linda Rosen, CEO of CTEq. "It has been said that conscience is a person's compass. CTEq can and will fire the nation's conscience on STEM education. We will monitor our own progress and the progress of others, identifying what is working and what isn't. CTEq will apply the lessons we learn so that the nation continues to move towards a future where every American is literate in science, technology, engineering and mathematics."

CTEq's goals are to improve STEM teaching at all grade levels, with a larger and more racially, ethnically and gender-diverse pool of highly-capable STEM teachers; to deepen student appreciation and excitement for STEM programs and careers to increase enrollment and success, especially among females and students of color; and to achieve a sustained commitment to the STEM movement from business leaders, government officials, STEM teachers and other stakeholders through communication, collaboration and data-based decision making.

CTEq has an ambitious agenda for its first year, including creating a snapshot of existing STEM investments by its more-than 100 member companies to establish a baseline of STEM programs.  CTEq also will create a self-evaluation mechanism for member companies to measure the effectiveness of their STEM programs and launch an ambitious plan to initiate a core set of programs in 100 new sites across the country.

The Weightless Flights of Discovery program provides evidence that efforts to increase interest in STEM make a difference. After flying 1,150 teachers on 40 weightless flights during the last five years, educators report program participation has positively impacted student interest in science and math. A recent survey of teachers who participated during the program's earlier years found that:

  • Nearly 92 percent of teachers noticed an increase in their students' interest level in science overall after sharing their experience.
  • Teachers reported that approximately 83 percent of students who were previously disinterested in science and math became notably interested and/or engaged. 
  • According to more than 75 percent of teachers surveyed, students expressed an interest in continuing to study math and science in high school or college.
  • According to more than approximately 80 percent of teachers surveyed, students expressed their desire to one day, pursue a career in a science or math related field.

To learn more about the Northrop Grumman Foundation Weightless Flights of Discovery, please visit www.northropgrumman.com/goweightless , or follow the progress of the teachers during their flights on Facebook ( http://www.facebook.com/GoWeightless ) and Twitter ( http://twitter.com/goweightless ).

Change the Equation (CTEq) is a non-profit organization whose 100 member companies from across industry sectors are dedicated to promoting innovation and investment in STEM teaching and learning. CTEq aims to give STEM education a central place in the national lexicon of excellence and achievement, establishing a national movement to support, promote and implement excellent STEM education for every child.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a leading global security company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, shipbuilding and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide.   Please visit www.northropgrumman.com for more information.

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