Monday, February 17, 2014

Why STEM Skills Matter

This is an op-ed piece that was published in the Sunday, February 16, 2014 edition of The Advocate.

Tolerances to the equivalent of a pencil point on a football field.  One of the largest concentrations of clean room and lab space in the entire United States.  The last hot-rolled aluminum plant in the World.  Plus, 3D printers that print on your desktop.

All these things and more are found on the Port Authority’s Central Ohio Aerospace & Technology Center campus in Heath. 

It’s easy to see, with more than 200 people employed in engineering fields and hundreds more in technical jobs, why the Port Authority has been a strong advocate for an emphasis on the value of science, technology, engineering, and math skills in Licking County and our region.  The STEM skills matter here.  Big time!

Linking STEM skills to STEM careers is crucial to ensure that our nation can continue to be the manufacturing leader for the World.  It also is part of ensuring that Licking County has a strong economy for generations to come too.

We constantly ask ourselves, “What’s that one thing that could spark an interest in a STEM career for our kids?”  As a community, we must aim to realize the full potential of our children and that starts with exposing them to a variety of opportunities in their own backyard, right here in Licking County.

One opportunity is coming up.  STEMfest! at The Works is next weekend with demonstrations by manufacturers on Sunday, February 23 starting at Noon. It’s free and open to the public for families to experience the link between STEM skills and STEM careers in a fun, hands-on way.

Boeing who calibrates with tolerances to the arcsecond will be there.  Bionetics who operates 52 different metrology labs will be there.  Kaiser Aluminum who produces the metal with the unique properties that a hot-rolled process provides to keep our airplanes safe will be there.  So will many others with hands-on demonstrations of real-life use of science, technology, engineering, and math right here in Licking County.

And then there’s the 3D printer.  A 3D Printer manufactured by a Central Ohio company will be printing at The Works for all to see.  The Works will showing off how this emerging technology is becoming more and more a part of not only our future, but our present too.

I hope to see you at The Works to see why STEM skills matter.


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