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.


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.


Spiders Aid Important Research at U of R’s Laser Lab

March 2, 2011

Spiders – you either love them or hate them. The scientists at the University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) love them.

After all, they are very valuable little co-workers.

The U of R’s LLE was established in 1970 as a center for the investigation of the interaction of intense radiation with matter. The quest of the LLE is to establish a long-term energy solution using controlled experiments with fusion.

One of the groundbreaking aspects of this experimentation is the use of spider silk in target mounting – spider silk produced right in the LLE.

For many decades, biologists and material scientists have been researching spider silk – a web-like fiber that the spider prepares as a net, cocoon for harnessing prey, or dragline to lower itself. Of the six types of silk the common spider produces, dragline silk is the most resilient, elastic, strong and biodegradable.

At LLE, dragline silk is used to provide a stable, low mass mount for targets used on the OMEGA Laser System.

Steven Noyes developed the system for spider silk target mounting.

Here’s how it works:

• First a spider is suspended upside down so that dragline silk may be collected.

• Silk is then wrapped around a wheel and placed under UV light to bond the silk to the spokes of the wheel.

• The wheel is then bonded to the target mount.

The goal of using spider silk to hold the target is to simulate a mid-air suspension. The less intrusive the mount, the more accurate the testing results. That is why four strands of spider silk, 3 tenths of a micrometer in diameter are used to hold the target in place.

The target is a millimeter diameter fuel capsule that is fused to produce helium and energy upon being imploded by the 60 OMEGA laser beams.

The LLE is home to the most powerful laser in the world, the Omega Laser System. It is the hope of LLE to create a nuclear reactor that will use controlled fusion as a nearly limitless energy source. With the help of their miniature lab assistants, they seem well on their way.

For more information on the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, click here.


STEM Mentor Program Visits U of R’s Optics Program

December 31, 2010

Members of the STEM Mentor Program and the University of Rochester's Department of Optics

Recently, the University of Rochester’s doctoral program in Optics hosted members of the STEM Mentor Program. 

The STEM (Science, Technology, Education and Math) Mentor Program is an innovative partnership between  The Rochester Area Colleges Center for Excellence in Math and Science (The Center) and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Rochester.

STEM Bigs (who have an interest/education/or career in STEM fields) and Littles (whom are in grades 4-6) visited the University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics in Goergen Hall for a highly interactive afternoon of optics fun. 

Doctoral students working with Professor Andrew Berger presented “Optics is Everywhere” – showing the Littles that, indeed, the field of optics is something they experience everyday. They also got to experiences aspects of optics they never had before, such as looking at their skin via a heat imaging camera.

A huge thank you to Dr. Berger and his students for sharing their passion with the STEM Mentor Program.  It was a wonderful opportunity for the Littles not only to learn about Optics, but to visit a university campus and to see a diverse group of scientists at work (and play!)

Enjoy these photos that capture the spirit of the day.

Littles from the STEM Mentor Program at their "Optics is Everywhere" presentation

 

Article and photos by Caurie Putnam – Coordinator of the STEM Mentor Program – cputnam3@zimbra.naz.edu