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STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics

First Annual STEM Career Expo Connects Middle School Students to Massachusetts Careers

Middle school students from Nantucket to the Berkshires enthusiastically learned first hand what doing science and engineering means in the world of work in Massachusetts. 

The first annual STEM Career Expo, sponsored by the Central MA STEM Pipeline Network, took place in June 2008 in conjunction with the Massachusetts State Middle School Science and Engineering Fair. Over 1,000 middle school students, parents, teachers, STEM professionals, and other interested parties visited the interactive exhibits and talked with representatives from the following employers and organizations to find out what it is like to work in a STEM career:

  • Abbott, Worcester
  • CityLab, Boston University
  • EMC, Hopkinton
  • Intel, Hudson
  • National Grid, Westborough
  • MassMEP, Worcester
  • Quinsigamond Community College, Worcester
  • University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester

Worcester Technical High School, the host of the event, opened their state of the art facility for tours of the technology centers. Throughout the day, the students and their parents saw in concrete ways how student work and choices in middle school are part of the pathway to a STEM career in Massachusetts.

Robin Pollier, HR specialist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School,
explains the many STEM Career opportunities available at the Medical School.

"I never knew that there were so many different choices of jobs in Massachusetts," stated one enthusiastic 7th grader. Parents were happily surprised by the rate of pay for many of these jobs.  

Kathie Mahoney from MassMEP describes how an industry
organization supports manufacturing done in Massachusetts.

Students who attended the STEM Career Expo had completed independent projects in which they asked a question or designed a solution to a problem employing the techniques used by professionals in various fields of science and engineering. During the Science Fair, the judges — scientists, and engineers from Massachusetts business and higher education institutions — asked the students questions. When the students visited the STEM Career Expo, the tables were turned and the students asked questions of the science and engineering professionals. Parents and professionals alike also had the opportunity to learn more about local STEM opportunities and the education and experience required to enter a STEM field.

Massachusetts State Middle School Science Fair participants learn
about the healthcare programs available at Quinsigamond Community College.

The Advisory Board to the Central MA STEM Network is already planning for a larger STEM Career Expo for next June. Robert. W. Richardson, Intel’s East Coast Education Manager and Chair of the Network’s Advisory Board stated, "This first STEM Expo far exceeded the Board’s expectations. We invite all employers to become involved with this fantastic event next year."   

Parents and students alike want to learn about the engineering that takes
place at Intel in Hudson, MA. Robert W. Richardson, the East Coast Education
Manager, describes the manufacturing process.

The Central MA STEM Pipeline Network, funded by the Pipeline Initiative Fund through the Department of Higher Education recently received a $500,000 grant to develop a STEM Career Campaign for middle school students and their parents. 

"Many of the science/technology jobs in Massachusetts are relatively new and are invisible to most people," explained Sandra Mayrand from the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Director of the Central MA STEM Pipeline Network. The Network and its members — local STEM employers, higher education institutions and consortiums, STEM non-profit organizations, K-12 school districts, and other like-minded STEM networks — are working together to expose middle school students and their parents to the vast opportunities that this state has and will continue to have for bright, creative, problem-solvers of the future.  

Chris Parousis and Kori King from Abbott talk
about the production of their newest drugs.

Research shows that the pathway to these important STEM careers begins with interest evoked and choices made in the middle school years. With that research in mind, the Central MA STEM Pipeline Network will replicate in three new locations the very successful Women in Science Conference for Worcester middle school students, which is in its 13th year. 2009 STEM Conferences for middle school students will be held in the following areas:

  • Fitchburg/Leominister, under the leadership of Fitchburg State College and Mt. Wachusett Community College
  • South Central MA, under the leadership of the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation and the Cummings Veterinary School  of Medicine at Tufts University
  • Shrewsbury/Westborough, under the leadership of Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Quinsigamond Community College
  • Worcester Public Schools, under the leadership of University of Massachusetts Medical School and the EcoTarium

These conferences will bring together STEM professionals and students for an extended opportunity to learn about various STEM professions and the people who work in those areas. For more information, please contact Sandra Mayrand at [email protected].


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