Innovative Resources Group was retained by the Challenger Board to advise on the campaign and to bring the Center to the Schenectady Museum. Innovative Resources recommended taking a new approach by repositioning Challenger on the lines of a business model, rather than depending on campaign success for individual, corporate and civic contributions.

The new direction would position Challenger similar to a technological company start-up that would procure loans to be paid back, with proof of sustainable operating funds. To devise the new approach, Challenger and Innovative Resources Group have talked to a number of start-ups in the region, which is fast becoming known as Tech Valley.

The Challenger Learning Center for Tech Valley, a $1.5 million state-of-the-art Center with NASA-type equipment and space technology, will be located in the Schenectady Museum. The core of the Center’s programs is teaching science curriculum, problem-solving and teamwork to middle-school students during over 300 simulated space missions a year.

In its broadest role, Challenger will act as a catalyst for career pathways in science, math and engineering to help develop the future workforce of New York State’s Tech Valley.

The focal point of the Center is the simulator – modules resembling the appearance of NASA’s Mission Control operation in Houston and the interior of a Space Station.

The Center will initially serve 10,000 middle school students, drawing from the 93 school districts in the 19-county Capital Region, and 35,000 students from 77 districts in the surrounding counties, including the Mid-Hudson Valley, the North Country all the way to the Canadian border, and Western Massachusetts.  Challenger is one of a network of similar Space Education Centers throughout the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.