Downtown Rome set to gain STEAM

Project Fibonacci Foundation eyes new collaborative high-technology center in community

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ROME - Project Fibonacci Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization registered in New York, has plans to bring a fully operational STEM plus arts (STEAM) center to downtown Rome by early 2023.

The facility is envisioned to be a collaborative center focused on programs designed to grow the local youth workforce in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Aptly named the Multiversity of Science, Art, and Technology — or MOSART — the center will be part interactive exhibition center featuring artificial intelligence (AI) inspired art including traditional art works, part local venue for special community activities and guest speaker events, and part metro-hub for local STEAM leadership education programs.

According to Foundation Chairman Dr. Andrew Drozd, MOSART will be a community asset operated by the foundation.

The foundation’s board is raising funds for the project and seeks community support. Through public grant programs, tax-deductible private donations, and corporate donations the foundation anticipates raising $1 million this year. The funds would cover facility acquisition, renovations, first-year operating expenses and job creation.

The foundation will offer a limited, multi-tiered first-founders club for organizations, families, individuals, and other stakeholders who wish to make a major, tax-deductible donation towards the project on a first-come, first-served basis. The foundation will dedicate office rooms, building wings, and founders’ bricks in the name of donors, family members, or organizations to establish a durable community legacy.

Included will be an array of permanent exhibits that pay tribute in name and spirit to the leaders of industry, technology and manufacturing who built the Mohawk Valley focusing on aspects of science, technology, arts, and history.

It will showcase the influencers who contributed to our economy, history, and cultural enrichment.

“This is a chance for community members and stakeholders to step up and positively influence our future and build on the shoulders of its citizen youth for generations to come,” said Drozd.

The multiversity branding, according to Drozd, reflects a combination of ideas: the cosmological ‘big bang’ and infinite multiverses, university education and diversity of ideas within the context of multidisciplinary learning.

“This is an entirely new value proposition and a futuristic museum concept,” said Drozd. “MOSART will be a popular destination for schools and visiting organizations. Downtown Rome, and its Downtown Revitalization Initiative renaissance, is a logical choice for its physical presence with its proximity to a premier research laboratory and emerging art scene. MOSART will neither be only a museum nor only a learning-activities center, but both and more, and it will deliver on the goals of the Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI) strategy.”

The URI strategy includes expanding STEM industries and cultivating the STEM workforce through innovation hub and entrepreneurial network growth.

“A dedicated MOSART center establishes permanent roots and deepens our commitment to the local community in support of job growth,” Drozd added.

Drozd anticipates 4-6 new jobs being created initially. He also anticipates hosting outside groups with common interests in promoting STEAM leadership education for STEM workforce development.

Drozd said he believes the Mohawk Valley community benefits from an energetic, forward thinking youth culture centered on science, art and technology looking ahead to consider what future generations will inherit.

“Rather than an image of a retirement village, we must expand our youth workforce and shore up the local youth talent pool by guiding and developing career opportunities,” said Drozd. “But more work is needed to connect students to area job opportunities to keep them local.”

MOSART will highlight our area’s strengths in science and technology, the expanding Arts District, its rich history and cultural diversity and especially its people, businesses and industries as a way of capturing youth.

“What if we could capture lightning in a bottle by spotlighting our area’s contributions in science, art and technology all in one place and present it in a compelling way?,” asked Drozd. “Consider the Mohawk Valley’s rich legacy in engineering, technology and manufacturing and the movers and shakers who made it happen.”

Drozd suggested hosting joint-community special events at MOSART in cooperation with the Capitol Theatre, Rome Art and Community Center, Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, Rome Historical Society, Fort Stanwix National Monument, Griffiss Institute, SUNY Polytechnic, Mohawk Valley Community College and other organizations. The long-term collaboration with these and other community partners will ensure their success and sustainability in the community, Drozd said.

Activity rooms or maker spaces would be used to host the foundation’s annual array of STEAM programs from sculpture spaces to joint-research apprenticeships, mini-drone camps and the annual STEAM conference workshops.

Exhibits will span the history of the Mohawk Valley’s technological achievements. SciArt exhibits and projects would include resonance art, sound sculpting, bioinspired engineering, the science of art conservation, and the art and math of the cosmos. Displays could include pendulum clocks, walking on water exhibits, art through Chemistry, and more.

AI-inspired art is another offering where the public would be able to interact with technoart exhibits powered by AI for a unique discovery-learning experience. The foundation has already reached out to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. and World Science Festival in New York City to explore partnerships for traveling science-art exhibits in the future.

Asked why art plays such an important role, Drozd said, “Ours is not a STEM program. It is no surprise though that art can positively affect STEM outcomes, but we have examined that impact more deeply.”

Drozd and his team have conducted in-depth research on human and machine learning frameworks noting that World War II codebreakers in the Pacific Theatre were largely musicians and mathematicians. Drozd is working on the STEM-Prism project which uses AI as a delivery platform for STEM plus arts education and hopes to monetize it as a product to generate sustainable revenues for MOSART.

“The broader vision of STEAM is to Stimulate Thought-leadership, Experience, and Advancement of the Mind through entrepreneurial, community, and economic well-being,” said Drozd.  “In addition to an exhibition floor, offices, activity and maker spaces, we would look to lease out space to other organizations for us to generate steady recurring revenues.”

The foundation is in discussions with multiple property owners to determine the best option for MOSART.

The board, which includes business-side Executive Director Bob Bojanek and educator-side Executive Co-director Tamalin Martin, both of Rome, along with a group of celebrity/industry advisors and a representative from NASA’s Johnson Space Center, is committed to realizing the project to its fruition.

ANDRO Computational Solutions, LLC has announced it will contribute up to $50,000 to kick-start a corporate matching program on behalf of MOSART.

For more information on fund-raising options and to participate in an opportunity to create a new legacy for future growth and prosperity of Rome and the greater Mohawk Valley, contact Dr. Drozd at adrozd@projectfibonacci.org or call 315-335-1238.

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