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Innovating + Building Community Through Education at ISU

Wendy Wintersteen Future World of Work

November 10, 2021


During the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s Future Ready DSM podcast, guests share insights about the employment landscape for people entering the workforce, as well as those looking to advance or change their career paths with The Partnership’s Senior Vice President of Talent Development Dr. Marvin DeJear.  

Current President of Iowa State University (ISU) Wendy Wintersteen joined the podcast to discuss how ISU is preparing students for the future world of work, opportunities for nontraditional students and how they are engaging with Iowa communities. Dr. Wintersteen is the 16th president of ISU and has been in her position since November 2017. 

Innovate at Iowa State Campaign

The purpose of ISU’s Innovate at Iowa State campaign seeks to strengthen the university’s reputation for innovation and entrepreneurship. Wintersteen said that everyone can learn to be an innovator, which is why encouraging collaboration among undergraduate students through the Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship and the Student Innovation Center, to create a culture of innovation at ISU is so important.  

Preparing Students for STEM Fields

Sixty percent of ISU students are enrolled in a STEM major. At ISU, the top five STEM majors are mechanical, electrical and computer, kinesiology, animal science and aerospace engineering. The 146,000 square-foot Student Innovation Center allows students from these areas and all majors to create and work with students from other disciplines. The Center also offers students the opportunity to translate technical knowledge into behaviors that help innovate within their chosen fields through the Innovation Fellows Corps or to be a pioneer in AI through the new Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence program, where students design and analyze algorithms and learn the principles of AI, natural language processing and more. Wintersteen offered insight into the program and encouraged those interested to attend Thursday morning virtual informative sessions to learn more about the major.  

Nontraditional Student Opportunities 

Through its partnership with Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC), ISU allows for nontraditional students to find opportunities through the Engineering Partnership ProgramCIRAS also works directly with manufacturing companies and is an avenue for nontraditional student opportunities.  

Connecting to the Community

Building a diverse and welcoming community at ISU helps brings strength and opportunity. Following the principles of community builds a commitment at the university through pillars for how to act and react to each other. These include:  

  • Respect 

  • Purpose 

  • Cooperation 

  • Richness of Diversity 

  • Freedom from Discrimination 

  • Honest and Respectful Discussion of Ideas 


Multicultural students make up one in four students at ISU, and the university also still has about 20% of students who are first generation students. Wintersteen said that she is proud about the community that continues to be cultivated on the ISU campus.  

You can listen to the entire podcast above.


The Future Ready DSM podcast brings Greater Des Moines (DSM) employment leaders and experts in to discuss the latest trends in talent attraction and retention in the region. Hosted by Greater Des Moines Partnership Senior Vice President of Talent Development Dr. Marvin DeJear. 

Future Ready DSM

The Future Ready DSM Podcast brings Greater Des Moines (DSM) employment leaders and experts in to discuss the latest trends in talent attraction and retention in the region. Hosted by Greater Des Moines Partnership Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Marvin DeJear.