Recently, The San Diego Foundation was buzzing with energy… and drones. The space was filled with students, educators, governmental and business community representatives, philanthropists, nonprofit partners and community members celebrating and demonstrating STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education and opportunity.
This Science & Technology Program event recognized the potential for our region to benefit from a strong next generation of STEM professionals, and highlighted the innovative efforts of our student participants.
Around the room examples of their work could be seen. College students with large posters explained impressive scientific research; young adults demonstrated computer software they had developed, and there was an impressive array of student-built robots – both terrestrial and airborne.
These students engaged the audience, and their excitement to present their knowledge was palpable. Their work was met with equal enthusiasm from the crowd. While we weren’t able to capture all of the amazing students and their work, the following quotes share a snapshot of the progress made by a few of our Science and Technology program participants, provided in their own words.
Flavia is an environmental engineering major at Mesa College and a STEM Scholar.
“Becoming a STEM Community Scholar is one of the most important achievements I have accomplished so far. It gave me the certainty that I am on the right track and made me feel confident about myself and my goals. The amount of information that we have access through the emails and newsletter sent by the program is crucial.”
Edgard is a Petroleum Engineering major at Mesa College, and a participant in the San Diego Mesa College STEM Community Scholars program.
“Being a STEM Community Scholar is more than having academic success; it is about helping our community and fostering a learning culture. We all have diverse backgrounds, face different problems, and study different STEM careers, but we all share a common goal: we want to make an impact in our community. Together we will make a better future.”
Randa is majoring in aerospace and engineering and participated in the Supply Chain Experience (SCE) Program at Miramar College. Through the program, she received an internship at Molecular Assemblies and continues to apply her skills in STEM with the intention of pursuing a career in aerospace design and engineering.
“This was my first internship experience, and I have learned a lot from it. Before interning at Molecular Assemblies, I was a waitress. The Chemistry team started teaching me how to operate and maintain fast protein liquid chromatography machines. I learned how to make the buffers necessary for each machine to work, and I wrote standard operating procedures for them.”
With breakthrough technology companies and research organizations, such as Qualcomm, Biocom and Scripps Research Institute, the San Diego region is recognized as one of the leading high-tech hubs and most dynamic economies in the nation. Yet, we know that not all students have the same opportunities to explore and pursue STEM-related fields that lead to scientific and technical jobs and a robust, diverse talent pool for local businesses.
At the recent Science and Technology event, we set out to engage in civic dialogue and explore the message of equity and inclusive economic growth.
We were joined by local experts for a panel discussion on the importance of connecting residents to opportunities in San Diego’s growing innovation economy. These thought leaders represent local government and industry: Erik Caldwell of the City of San Diego, Carrie Sawyer of Qualcomm and Eduardo Velasquez of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation.
The conversation recognized the need for greater alignment in support of the common goal of access to opportunity and a strong local workforce. We recognized common goals and the unique and complementary roles that industry, philanthropy, nonprofits, academia and government can play to support efforts aimed at increasing the number of local talent in STEM, particularly amongst underrepresented postsecondary students.
By increasing opportunities for STEM higher education, connecting young adults with paid internships in San Diego and establishing networks of current and prospective scientists, the Science & Technology Program creates a holistic approach that will support the regional innovation economy and San Diego residents for generations to come.
Help strengthen the regional economy by investing in STEM opportunities.