If you don’t know what STEM means, please read this

There are many facets to my life and how you see me or know me will vary from seeing me as a geeky engineer to a facilitator to a search consultant.  Not many people have been as fortunate as I have to work in such a wide range of roles in such a short period of time, 53 years.  Even though my engineering days are in the rear-view mirror, my interest in the sciences has never wavered and that interest, that passion, continues to fuel a great deal of the work I do today and into many tomorrows.

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and the acronym is used to associate programs that promote literacy and support of any of the four, typically for young men and women choosing careers.  I was the beneficiary of STEM programs while I was growing up and my sons both had the same advantage.  My youngest son was directly influenced by a STEM program called the ACE Mentor program.  More to come about that.

I have often heard that you can tell where someone has interest when you see where they spend their time.  I believe this is true and I tend to spend my time with people who are either STEM educated or who work in industry segments that are STEM related.  My firm, Ryan Search & Consulting, focuses on the Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Manufacturing and Economic Development markets and each of these is either directly involved with STEM issues or is a first cousin of such issues.  Where I spend my time outside of the “paying” part of my job is more of my topic in today’s post.

There are two main STEM programs that I support directly.  One is the ACE Mentor program and the other is BioTN and the GK-12 program.  Let me tell you a little about each of these.

ACE Mentor is a program that encourages high school students to learn about Architecture, Construction and Engineering (ACE) in order to spur interest in these three professions.  ACE started over 20 years ago in New York City and has spread across the country.  My first involvement with ACE came in the middle 2000’s while I worked for Smith Seckman Reid, an Engineering firm here in Nashville.  Through this work I then encouraged my younger son to participate in ACE while he was a student at Independence High School in Thompson’s Station, TN. 

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       Matt Ryan of Independence HS

He not only participated, but he was also a scholarship winner.  Not only does ACE provide a curriculum for these young men and women to learn the process, but there is a very robust scholarship program that supports some of the highest achievers with college scholarships.  I recently joined the ACE board in Nashville and will continue to find ways to spread the word and grow the program.

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         Joseph Cole speaks to the ACE Mentor Banquet

My second STEM interest comes through the GK-12 program through BioTN.  BioTN Foundation was founded by Sam and Leslie Lynch of Biomimetic to help promote biological science education and business growth in our region and the GK-12 program is funded by the (NSF).  Laurene McLemore provides the day to day structure to this initiative with support from MTSU and TSU.

Our GK-12 program has 9 graduate students from MTSU and TSU who work side by side with biology teachers in Davidson and Rutherford County schools to help enrich the science curriculum.  The graduate students get a stipend for their participation.  Truly this is a win-win enterprise as the graduate students get much needed funding for their education while the high school students get perspective and insight into current research and science careers.  My contribution is to provide career guidance and leadership training for the graduate fellows.  After spending 3 years with this program my interest continues to grow to see just what we might do next to encourage STEM work in our area.

So now you should fully understand what STEM stands for and what impact it should have not only in the classroom, but also in the business community both here and nationally.

Our country thrives on innovation and creativity and science education is the fundamental building block of this.

STEM education is of critical importance.  What will you do to support STEM?