It started with Steve Wozniak – better known as “The Woz.” The Apple Inc. co-founder headlined the Palm Beach State College Foundation’s launch in early 2013 – the first year of its five-year STEAM initiative to impact the projected shortage of local, skilled professionals in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) fields.
Now in its second year, the initiative has drawn some of the top names in STEAM fields to the College and Palm Beach County (see below) to educate students and the community on the growth and importance of STEAM careers to build a strong, diversified economy.
Along with these star appearances, the Foundation is working with the local community, raising money to support STEAM scholarships and academic programs, as well as increasing the number of student internships and partnerships with local businesses.
“The community response has been very rewarding,” said Suellen Mann, executive director of the Foundation. “Even more rewarding has been the student response. Students are now beginning to see that STEAM careers are where the future jobs will be and their limitless possibilities.”
One of those students is Victor Aguirre, whose dream is to become an aerospace engineer. A first-generation student, Aguirre has a fascination for aviation and was always watching the skies as a child.
During one semester at Palm Beach State, he took a trip as part of a class excursion to the Kennedy Space Center, which fueled his passion even more. Aguirre and his classmates went inside a mock space shuttle where they practiced both launch and land exercises.
“I came from a community with high poverty and unemployment. I think it would be a great story if I could go back and tell other students and show them that this is what you can do. You just have to work hard, go to college and believe in yourself.”
Aguirre’s experience is just one of many at Palm Beach State supported by community and business leaders working to ensure STEAM programs are sustained at optimal levels.
“STEAM builds on Palm Beach State’s successes of the past 80 years that have brought us to this moment: From humble beginnings, enrollment is now more than 48,000 students, signature programs are attracting notice and award-winning faculty are preparing the next generation of leaders,” says Palm Beach State President Dr. Dennis Gallon.
“But we can’t rest. We must keep ‘building STEAM.’ As an alumnus or alumna, parent, student, business leader or friend of the College, the success of the STEAM initiative rests with you. I encourage you to plan your participation to reflect the value and importance to you of all that Palm Beach State has been and all we aspire to be.”
To hear more from Victor Aguirre and what others are saying about the STEAM initiative, visit the Foundation at www.palmbeachstate.edu/Foundation/STEAM
John Lithgow – The two-time Oscar nominee shared his passion for the role creativity and the arts can play in expanding the traditional approach to education, literacy and life.
Two explorers – NASA Astronaut Joe Acaba and deep sea scientist Dr. Edith Widder – talked about how ocean and space exploration produce technology that impacts our daily lives and advances mankind in “Yesterday’s Science Fiction is Today’s Reality.”
John Sculley – Former CEO at Apple Inc. shared his experience of investing in and mentoring innovative high-tech companies that are changing the world in “Demystifying Entrepreneurism.”
Steve Wozniak – Silicon Valley and computer icon shared his perspectives on U.S. competitiveness and the growing need for more science and technology professionals.