Pittsburgh STEM Summit 2014

Scroll down for my top 5 ideas to transform your child, your classroom, your school and our County chosen from the many presenters!

BC STEM had a great presence at the recent Pittsburgh STEM Summit.  Angela Fishman (Penn State Beaver), Sandy Curry (Franklin Center), Rick Riley (Job Training of Beaver County) and Dean Petrella (P&S Design) joined my cheers for the virtual Ray Russell of RoPro sending his seven minute presentation from Australia via video.

The 6th Annual STEM Summit was hosted by the Pittsburgh Technology Council and held in the Carnegie Science Center.  Its sponsors (FedEx, Google, Apollo Education Group, SDLC partners, Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh, Bayer, and Chevron) sought to bring about the urgently needed dialog between Educators, Business leaders, and Entrepreneurs to confront the shortage of people applying for STEM jobs in the area.  Every speaker invited us to collaborate together on how to we build the next generation STEM workers.

There were so many good presentations.  Besides Ray, my top 5 picks from the plethora of amazing STEM opportunities are….

#5 Pittsburgh DataWorks
#5 Pittsburgh DataWorks sponsors a competition for high schoolers.  Lisa Abel-Palmieri, PhD. Director, Learning Innovation Institute @Learn21Tech palmieril@theellisschool.org   One of the major themes related to big data is that of the demand for data analysis skills that has been created. Awareness of this gap between the supply and demand for big data talent has already led universities around the country and world to offer big data related programs. Here’s a list of universities offering graduate programs in big data.  Right here in Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pittsburgh are offering big data degree programs at both bachelors and masters level. However, the awareness about big data and its impact has not yet reached high schools. It’s important it does and leading schools in Pittsburgh agreed. As high school students begin to think about their futures and career choices, they need to understand the new possibilities that have opened up with big data. Even if they don’t choose to become data scientists, they need to understand that in future almost all careers – from teaching to doctors to journalists – are going to require them to work with data analytics.

#4  BlueRoof Technologies
#4  BlueRoof Technologies partnered with McKeesport Area School District and Penn State University Greater Allegheny.  A three credit dual enrollment course was created that taught smart house technology.  Ten students from the high school interviewed a blind veteran and added technology to the 3 bedroom Tiger-VET home .

#3 Global Passport Project
#3 Global Passport Project is a school-to-business partnership in which students work with industry executives to address global issues. The team described the experience of North Allegheny and South Fayette high school students that partnered with Thar Technologies Inc., an O’Hara-based company. The students addressed the issue of global water shortages and helped in the development of a water desalination process that uses high temperatures and pressure to force salt and contaminants out of salt water, making it drinkable.

#2 Keynote Denise A. Sabolcik
#2 “If it wasn’t for that high school teacher” were just some of the inspiring words from the keynote speaker, FedEx Vice President of Application Development, Denise A. Sabolcik. She spoke of being a first generation local college graduate who got a job at what was, at the time, a bold start up that dared to compete with UPS and USPS.  She then went on to humble every programmer and mathematician in the audience with what is the state of the art technology of the FedEx package delivery system. FedEx is a Pittsburgh based company that now employs 65,000 worldwide, handles more than 4.5 million packages a day, was voted a 2013 #1 Top Work Place by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and is a great sponsor to the FIRST robotics program.

#1 The New Hummingbird Duo Kits
#1 The New Hummingbird Duo Kits.  Tom Lauwers’ brilliance just lit the way for all of us searching for a robotics platform that offers very easy access for younger grades with arts integration that can now scaffold through to complex robotics integration with GPS, Sound Systems and giant LED boards. This new Hummingbird kit starts like the old one with plug in electronics and easy to learn drag and drop programs (including Scratch).  It can grow to stage 2 when the kids move into more difficult programming with arrays and loops.  Then, (press for drum roll!), you can literally flip it over to begin using the Arduino board without soldering.  Finally, you can introduce soldering and begin to integrate new technology that isn’t yet on the market.  Brilliant!


Thank you Franklin Center for sponsoring my involvement in this year’s STEM Summit. You set even more gears in motion as we bring all of these phenomenal ideas and tools back into here to Beaver County.  Everyone is invited to the next BC STEM meeting 6:30 pm September 25 at Penn State Beaver to connect with others collaborating together to build STEM literacy, STEM graduates, STEM workers, and STEM entrepreneurs.


About Beaver County STEM

The Beaver County STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Math) Education Advocacy Coalition is a community based organization of professionals, teachers, parents and community members advocating for STEM education and opportunities needed for 21st century jobs.
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