Hundreds of the nation’s leaders in business and technology gathered in Greenwich, CT September 28 for a forum on science, technology, engineering and math.
The goal of the forum, hosted by the Delta Nu Boule of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity as part of its 20th Biennial Northeast Regional Conference, is to expand America’s STEM pipeline by promoting underrepresented minority participation in these disciplines.
The event welcomed more than 300 business and technology leaders and 100 students from Connecticut and the greater New York City area.
It featured a keynote speech by Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president, University Maryland, Baltimore County and chairman of President Obama’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. Opening remarks were provided by Rod Adkins, IBM’s senior vice president of corporate strategy.
The forum included a panel discussion on the importance of STEM education. The panel was moderated by Dr. Tyrone Taborn, chairman and cEO, Career Communications Group, Inc., and featured:
· Linda Gooden, Retired Executive Vice President, Lockheed Martin, Information Systems & Global Solutions
· Kwame Jackson, Entrepreneur and 2004 Finalist of NBC’s The Apprentice
· Ron Johnson, Retired General, U.S. Army, and former Senior Vice President, NBA Operations
· Dr. Irving Pressley McPhail, President & CEO, National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering
Throughout the event, participants visited a Technology Café sponsored by IBM, where the company’s researchers demonstrated innovations made possible by STEM.
“There is no doubt that to advance our economy and improve our global competitiveness, we need to increase participation in STEM disciplines,” said Rod Adkins, senior vice president, IBM Corporate Strategy.
“This forum, featuring Dr. Hrabowski and a panel of our nation’s top leaders, will get young people excited about careers in STEM and ensure that America’s next generation is creating innovations and not just consuming them.”
In addition to the forum, the event featured a first-ever West Point STEM Workshop for diverse local students.
The Delta Nu Boule’ of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity and The Opportunity Foundation, Inc. hosted a team of professors and cadets from West Point, facilitated by Associate Professor and Army Lieutenant Colonel Donald Outing, PhD, director of the Center for Leadership and Diversity in STEM at West Point.
The team led local elementary, middle and high school students in fun activities and demonstrations intended to pique their interest in STEM education.
Delta Nu Boule’s Opportunity Foundation used the event as an opportunity to award up to $20,000 in scholarships to local African-American high school seniors who have demonstrated high performance in academics and leadership.
“We are looking forward to this inaugural event to encourage young people to pursue careers in America’s much needed STEM fields,” says Archie Elam, vice president of The Opportunity Foundation, Inc. of Delta Nu Boule’ and a West Point graduate. “Our hope is that this will be the ‘big bang’ that sparks a community for our youth in STEM and leadership.”
Given America’s evolving demographics, increasing minority participation in STEM is vitally important to maintaining the country’s global economic leadership. While 45 percent of all American children are Black, Hispanic or Native American, only 15 percent of engineering degrees are earned by these groups, according to a study from the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering. The forum examined ways to close this gap, and thereby strengthen the pipeline of STEM professionals in the U.S.