Exciting new Incentive Program for NYS STEM Students

May 14, 2014

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced an exciting new Incentive Program for college-bound STEM students across New York State.graphic header

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the launch of the New York State Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Incentive Program, which will encourage the best and brightest high school students to pursue high-demand, high-tech careers and build their future in New York. The program provides a full SUNY or CUNY tuition scholarship to the top 10% of students in every New York high school if they major in a STEM field and work in a STEM job in New York State for five years after graduation.  (May 6, 2014)

There are several eligibility criteria, such as an applicant must:

  • Be a NYS resident
  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • Be enrolled full time at a SUNY or CUNY college beginning with the fall term following his or her high school graduation
  • Be ranked in the top 10% of his/her high school graduating class of a NYS high school
  • Be matriculated in an undergraduate program leading to a degree in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics at a SUNY or CUNY college
  • Earn a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.5 or higher each term after the first semester
  • Execute a service contract agreeing to reside and work in NYS for five years in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics. View the terms and conditions of the service contract
  • Not be in default on a student loan made under any NYS or federal education loan program or repayment of any state award
  • Be in compliance with the terms of any service condition imposed by a state award

For more information about this incentive program, please visit the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation website.  You’ll find all the details you need, including how to apply, and special details and restrictions.


High Tech Night at MCC

March 31, 2014

Last week we attended the High Tech Night at MCC.  This Annual event is a great opportunity for students interested in Engineering and other high-tech fields to take a look at some local companies and see what they have to offer.  I attended with my high school freshman, who is a current participant in our high school’s Project Lead the Way program.  He was surprised at the many different ways companies used Engineers, and how different the jobs looked depending on what the company’s focus was.  It was eye opening to see the many opportunities there are in the Engineering and Technical fields.

One of the hands on demonstrations - plastic injection molding

One of the hands on demonstrations: plastic injection molding

Our region has many high-tech companies, and many of them were on-site to showcase who they are and what they do.  There were several booths that had video presentations, they all had staff willing to answer questions, and many of them had a hands-on component.  The hands-on displays were a huge hit, as evidenced by the crowds at these stations as teens lined up to participate.  We were able to see how contact lenses are made and the various stages they go through before being delivered to the consumer, how a 3-D printer works, and even learned how to operate a plastic injection mold to make a small screwdriver.

The RIT Racing Team's display was a big hit!

The RIT Racing Team’s display was a big hit!

In addition to the company displays, there were several colleges represented that had information on their Technology and Engineering programs.  MCC had multiple tables showcasing the many different options they currently offer, and there were also tables from Syracuse University and Rochester Institute of Technology.  RIT brought their student-made race car from their racing team, and that was a huge draw as well.

Group tours of MCC’s labs and buildings were also offered for anyone that wanted a close-up look at the facilities being used in their programs.  Between the tours and the displays, there were many ways to explore the field in an engaging manner, and my high-schooler left with a better grasp of what career paths could be in his future if he wanted to continue along the engineering path.

The Sky Op, a remote-controlled aerial videocamera

The Sky Op

My son’s favorite display was from a local company called SkyOp.  They build unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which are basically a remote-controlled mini helicopter, that carries a video camera.  The staff were very engaging and were great at answering all the questions my son had about how long the battery life is (about 20 minutes), how much they cost (depends on size) and how durable they are (quite, and we got several stories of accidental landings and how well they fared).

The presenters were all very engaging and asked the students about themselves, what they wanted to study, and offered tips on course selection (take math and science, and lots of it!) as well as offering some information on internships and entry-level job opportunities.

If you have a student interested in the high tech fields, this is a great opportunity to learn more about what is available locally and to see recent developments in the field.  I would highly recommend going.  This event is run annually at MCC in the early Spring.


Homegrown STEM Learning

November 15, 2012

Brickport Lego “Quick Build” Contest

I was honored to serve as a judge for the Second annual “Brickport”  Lego building contest on Monday. It was a school holiday and about 20 kids participated in the contest held at the Seymour Library in the village of Brockport, NY. The event was organized as a fundraiser by the Prairie Fire Twig, a group of local women who provide support to the Brockport Lakeside hospital. This Twig, led by professional working women, decided to to create an event that benefits more than the hospital, but also rewards local kids for their creativity and industriousness. I don’t usually get too excited about fundraisers, but this seems like a piece of my dream for the future: where creative thinking  and STEM learning are integral to our society.  The group simply solicited/donated prizes and snacks, had a big box of Legos and advertised the event. It cost $5.00 to enter and there were many prizes (all building kits) to be won. As we celebrated Veteran’s Day on Monday, the theme was “Honoring American Heros”.  There were lots of creative entries.

Winning entry “9/11 Heros”

The grand prize winner was a dramatic scene entitled “9/11 Heroes”. There were also a series of “Quick Build” competitions. Kids were given a theme and ten minutes to build something. They even had an adult round (our theme was “politics”) and I learned how hard this is. My entry consisting of of a little green plant did not win, but the experience sure helped me gain a measure of respect and appreciation for the kids who built frogs (“rainforest”), swimming pools (“sports”), solar-powered lunar modules (“space”) submarines (“underwater exploration”) and more with only ten minutes, a bucket of parts, and the ability to plan and design that will take them far. These are our future engineers and my hat goes to off them as well as to this creative group of women who found a way to encourage their thinking while raising money for a good cause.


Towards systemic improvement in the Finger Lakes

May 28, 2012

Lisa Ryerson
President
Wells College

I am delighted to join the Board of Champions of the Finger Lakes STEM Hub.  As the long-time president of Wells College in Aurora, along the shore of beautiful Cayuga Lake, I am well aware of the need for quality education in science, technology, engineering and math across the spectrum of higher education. Here in the Finger Lakes region we have an especially rich and diverse mix of educational institutions and a wealth of knowledge.  Our challenge, of course, is to translate our commitment to STEM education, our capacity for excellent teaching, and our potential for transformative learning, to broad and effective action.  I believe in joining together in this collaborative coalition, we have the best chance of creating systemic improvements and for STEM education. I look forward to working with this dynamic group of educators and leaders for the benefit of our students and our communities.


This is STEM!

May 17, 2012

Michelle Kavanaugh
Superintendent
Honeoye Falls-Lima School District

Note:  This is fifth in a series of posts by members of the Finger Lakes STEM hub Steering Committee and Board of Champions. Dr. Kavanaugh was a speaker at the Finger Lakes STEM Hub Launch on May 10th, 2012. Below is the transcript of her presentation.

This is an exciting moment for regional K-12 education.  The Hub is one of the most promising supports in our mission to assure all students are college and career-ready. At a time when local employers are being forced to leave STEM-related jobs unfilled, school districts and colleges share a mandate in providing students with pathways and experiences that lead to a more vibrant future.  Together, we face a new-era Sputnik-type of imperative to change the course of education.

STEM education is a catalyst for a new tomorrow because it can engage, excite and empower.  It can lift up learning because it challenges students to think critically, collaborate and solve complex problems.  It can inspire because it is built on forging four meaningful connections.  Here is what I mean:

#1)  Connections with the Real World – Nothing is more motivating for learners than when rolling up their sleeves to do hands-on experiences that are relevant to their interests and to their future opportunities.  For example:  Solving authentic environmental problems or interning in local businesses – this is STEM!

#2)  Connections across Content Areas – Students are involved in solving complex problems when they can design new solutions and explore innovations by applying knowledge broadly across subject boundaries.  For example:  Robotics competitions – this is STEM!

#3)  Connections with Higher Standards – STEM learning is rigorous and aligned with industry standards as well as state and national core curriculum and the newly-released Next Generation National Science Standards.  For example:  the Hub’s plan to inspire student created video productions based on inquiry and media literacy, as seen in the Hub’s Video – this is STEM!

#4) Connections with Business and Community – STEM learning requires the active involvement of leaders and enlightened volunteers across economic sectors.  For example:  partnerships that support learning with the Rochester Museum & Science Center, Siemens and Xerox – this is STEM!

The Hub is poised to provide schools support for professional development, and sharing of innovative practices.  This gives us hope and great promise. A recent Hub-sponsored tour of an East Syracuse school district is an example of the work of the Hub in building local capacity through valuable networking.

On behalf of K-12 educators, we call on each of you to join us in making STEM education a local covenant for building a better future.

Michelle Kavanaugh is a member of the Finger Lakes STEM hub Steering Committee.


All students need STEM

May 8, 2012

Jonathan Franz
Dean of the Genesee Valley Center of SUNY Empire State College

Note:  This is second in a series of posts by members of the Finger Lakes STEM Hub Steering Committee and Board of Champions.

As a person with a life-long interest in science and graduate training as a neuroscientist, I am committed to helping our educators at all levels to excite students about the value of scientific inquiry. Understanding the world around us is becoming more important than ever.  The dangers to the planet of population growth, air and water pollution and global warming have been understood by scientists for quite some time, but are still controversial among the chattering classes and the general population. Technological advances in manufacturing, information management, and various service industries demand constantly increasing levels of technical expertise from employees at all levels. And yet, student achievement in STEM fields in the United States is slipping relative to other countries. If the US and the world are to continue to enjoy prosperity and a high quality of life, we need to educate the next generation to think in scientific and mathematical ways, to think critically about public policy issues, and to make decisions based on scientific reasoning rather than political rhetoric. For the special group of students with a high aptitude for science and math, we need to help them overcome any economic and social barriers to their success. They will be the innovators and problem solvers of the future.

Jonathan Franz is a member of the Finger Lakes STEM Hub Board of Champions.


Finger Lakes STEM Hub Launch

April 30, 2012

Sara Silverstone

Each month since December of 2010 I have had the privilege to facilitate a remarkable collaborative group of leaders in education, government, higher ed and community organizations as we developed a regional Hub of the Empire State STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Learning Network. We developed a mission, vision, goals, working committees and action items for the year. In the past week we began inviting influential community leaders to join our Board of Champions. We have big plans and a wonderful, energetic and diverse group to carry them out. This is networking at its best!

Nearly every day I read about economic problems whose solution is to develop a technically trained workforce who can fill the jobs of the 21st Century. Students graduate without the skills employers are desperately seeking, and as a result, half of all of recent college graduates are either jobless or underemployed while great jobs are remain unfilled. Clearly there is a gap between what we are teaching our young people and what they need to learn in order to find good jobs.

What can leaders from business and education do about this disconnect, which adversely affects everybody?  By coming together in agreement about the elements of a high-quality 21st Century education and ensuring that that is what our students receive, the double-edged problem of unemployment and lack of a skilled workforce can be addressed. For too long, industry and education operated in separate silos, unaware and unconcerned about their common needs.

With the launch of the Finger Lakes STEM Hub, our region joins a statewide and national STEM learning network which enables all constituencies to acknowledge our common goals and work across sectors to address our nations most pressing technical and economic problems.

Over the next few weeks, participants in the Finger Lakes STEM Hub will share their perspective on how STEM education can address our most pressing problems and how the Finger Lakes STEM Hub can contribute to these solutions.