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Updated: October 21, 2019

At decade mark, Fleury focuses Science Center on STEM education

Photo | Brian Ambrose Connecticut Science Center CEO and President Matt Fleury (pictured above in a suit and tie and in the upper right hand photo with Mayor Luke Bronin) has led the nonprofit interactive museum through a decade of growth. His latest initiative is to focus on STEM education.
Photo | Connecticut Science Center
Photo | Connecticut Science Center


Matt Fleury, President & CEO, Connecticut Science Center

Matt Fleury remembers when the Science Center was just an idea in 2001.

Back then, Fleury, president and CEO of the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford, was on staff at the Capital City Economic Development Authority, known now as the Capital Region Development Authority.

“I remember when the Science Center was a vision and a parking lot,” said Fleury, who was CCEDA's lead staffer supporting the project.

Since the Science Center opened in June 2009 — as part of a broader downtown Hartford revitalization initiative — 3.3 million people have gone through its doors.

The facility is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and marked a major milestone at the end of 2018 by hosting the Association of Science-Technology Centers’ (ASTC) annual conference, which brought 1,700 members and guests to Hartford.

“I’m proud of leading this institution through a decade,” Fleury said, adding that the facility is an asset to families for enjoyment and inspiration. “It’s satisfying to look back over a 10-year period to see how far we’ve come and to look ahead to where we’re going.”

The nonprofit organization, which has about 100 employees and recorded $9.4 million in revenue in 2018, is dedicated to enhancing science education throughout the state and providing learning opportunities for students and adults.

STEM focus

Fleury and his staff have been leading a new initiative to inspire students to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Called “STEM Career Connections,” the initiative was launched during the 10th anniversary this summer.

The initiative includes a series of career showcase events where students interact with professionals who teach them about STEM careers.

“We’re laser-focused on our role of raising awareness in science and technology and those careers, at a time when there are science and technology positions that need to be filled,” Fleury said. “Our unique role is we speak to families and young children at a time they’re prone to be thinking about their future in broad strokes.”

Fleury said experiences, awareness and exposure to science at a young age can affect a youngster’s career choice.

“Many people find science topics to be abstract or even intimidating, and the opposite of relatable and enjoyable," he said. "This sometimes comes from experiences with more traditional schoolroom science, but it also has become something of a cultural habit to accept that science and math aren’t fun. We present science in a completely different way so that a child’s early exposure to it is relatable, practical, engaging and inspiring."

Fleury said the Science Center was created to provide “enjoyable experiences with science at an early age and break down perceived barriers,” to science-related careers.

He also said that while he supported the development of the Science Center, he was not alone in getting it to where it is today.

He noted that Ted Sergi was the president and CEO when it was built.

“I took over when we opened,” Fleury said.

Scott Murphy, a partner at Hartford law firm Shipman & Goodwin, who is a member of the Science Center’s board of trustees, said Fleury’s strong leadership is a factor in the institution's success.

“He’s an engaging, enthusiastic leader. He’s very committed to the Hartford community,” Murphy said. “Matt was there from the beginning.”

Murphy said Fleury is a “highly effective and forward-thinking leader.”

Not only is the Science Center an attraction but it’s helping position Connecticut as a STEM leader, Murphy said.

“STEM careers are very important to Connecticut’s economic future,” Murphy said. “It’s a success story. It’s a downtown Hartford jewel.”

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