The STEM East Network, guided by the ENC Employers and Superintendents Council, hosted the annual E2 Summit on Wednesday, May 3rd, in New Bern, NC. The event hosted employers and educators throughout eastern North Carolina and offered the attendees an opportunity to connect with peers and leaders in the education and workforce arenas. Bruce Middleton, Executive Director of STEM East officiated the event and was joined by educators and economic professionals to discuss skill needs and projection reports that will affect the future workforce of Eastern NC.
The keynote speaker, Dr. Ann Chester, Assistant Vice President for Health Sciences for Education Partnerships at West Virginia University, shared the success of the Health Sciences & Technology Academy (HSTA) - a program designed on the belief that vulnerable students have the potential and desire to pursue a college education and can achieve that goal on parity with their privileged peers if given the appropriate support. The ‘out-of-school’ program has demonstrated success in improving student outcomes and community support.
The program’s goals are to increase college attendance in West Virginia, improve STEM education in public schools, empower communities through youth leadership development, and ultimately increase the number of health care providers and STEM educators in underserved communities. In 1994, the program began as a two-county pilot program with 44 students. Today, it serves 750 participants across 26 counties. More than 2,300 kids have graduated from the program, many of whom have grown up in rural communities and are the first in their families to attend college.
The attendees also heard from a panel of educators from Pitt County, Pamlico County, Onslow County and Greene County as well as a representative from the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Coastal Plain. The panelists discussed best practices and successes they have seen in their respective districts. The conversation moved towards how the successes can be replicated across the region through collaboration and cost sharing.
The capstone to the event was the announcement of STEM East Connects, hosted on the NEPRIS system. STEM East Connects joins together teachers and students with the right industry experts through a web-based connection. This virtual “field trip” requires less teacher planning time for a direct view into the STEM workplace while providing an effective way for companies to extend education outreach and create equity of access. During the announcement, attendees were given a live presentation where they connected with an engineer from Samsung in Texas that explained her role with the company and shared how her educational journey positioned her for her career.
The STEM East Network would like to specifically thank the Duke Energy Foundation for its continued support of the STEM initiative in eastern North Carolina, as well as The Burroughs Wellcome Fund, The National STEM Funder’s Network and the The North Carolina Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Center. The partnership between these entities has fostered exceptional growth in STEM education throughout eastern North Carolina.