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Tech Titans connects students to STEM career futures, virtually

By Melinda Guravich, staff writer

The Tech Titans® STEM Workforce Initiative has delivered 15,000 inspirational experiences to students since its inception, through career panels, speed mentoring, STEM camps, facility tours and other face-to-face events. Last spring, dozens of scheduled events suddenly evaporated from school calendars in the wake of the pandemic shut down.

The technology association’s Talent Team was determined to continue inspiring high school and middle school students to pursue STEM education and careers. Within four weeks, Tech Titans volunteers were in action with virtual events and new programming.

Virtual is the new in-person for STEM programs
Working with Richardson ISD educators and administrators, Tech Titans volunteers delivered their first diversity in engineering virtual panel in May 2020--Everyone Can Be an Engineer--using Cisco’s WebEx technology. The team quickly ramped up, connecting with students through additional diversity panels and Successful Women in Engineering panels in area school districts, and during virtual summer coding camps at UT Dallas.

The transformation to digital events expands the initiative’s footprint and reaches more students. It also increases opportunities for volunteers, who can now participate from anywhere.

Float Your Boat (with Titus the STEM cat)
Float Your Boat is an engineering design program for rising sixth graders. It incorporates the concept of the displacement of weight in water, with teams competing to design the aluminum boat that floats the heaviest cargo of pennies. The Talent Team worked with RISD educators to solve logistical challenges, get pre-packaged materials to students, and transform the experience into a virtually led event for a hybrid learning environment. Students can participate from home or from school, while volunteers lead the program remotely.

Titus the STEM cat made a special on-camera appearance during a recent event led by volunteer Marvin Harris, a foundry engineer with Qorvo, Inc. Titus carefully tasted the container of water and indicated his approval by stretching out on top of Marvin’s neatly stacked columns of pennies, to the delight of students.

The digital version of Float Your Boat continues to create a big splash.

Addressing food insecurity issues through STEM learning

Tech Titans launched a new program, the STEM Question Challenge, in response to food insecurity issues experienced by students and their families in the wake of school closures and job losses. Students research a specific, corporate-sponsored STEM topic, and based on their responses, have the opportunity to earn $50 Walmart gift cards to help with family grocery bills. Sponsors of this new program have included State Farm, Qorvo, Ericsson, DTCC and CoServ Electric.

Recognizing STEM education heroes

Tech Titans and State Farm launched the STEM Excellence Award to honor 10 North Texas high school educators for their innovative work during 2020, inspiring students to pursue STEM careers.

Ten high-school STEM teachers and staff members were recognized during the virtual Tech Titans STEM Video Contest Awards event in March. Sponsored by State Farm, the video contest for high school and middle school students is in its fifth year.
Learn more about the Tech Titans STEM Workforce Initiative at: : https://techtitans.org/stem-talent/

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