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Battelle part of new initiative to promote STEM education

Special to the Legal News

Published: September 14, 2017

Battelle Memorial Institute this week launched MakerMinded, an online science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, learning and educational activity platform.

Launched to coincide with the new academic year, the MakerMinded campaign is meant to impassion students about advanced manufacturing and provides them with transformational STEM learning experiences that set them on track towards advanced manufacturing careers.

The platform is in partnership with a collaborative effort to develop advanced lightweight metal manufacturing technologies and implement the necessary education and training initiatives into the workforce.

Partners - including Detroit-based Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow, or LIFT, the Ohio STEM Learning Network, the Ohio Manufacturers' Association and Tennessee Tech University's iCube - have set a goal of signing up 100 schools across Ohio during school year just begun.

Top performing schools would be awarded for engagement in MakerMinded advanced manufacturing programs in May 2018, according to a press release announcing the launch.

"MakerMinded offers an excellent starting point for schools looking to get started with STEM or expand the opportunities they offer students," Battelle Senior Vice-President of Education, STEM Learning, and Philanthropy Aimee Kennedy said in a prepared statement. "We're proud to bring this opportunity to the Ohio STEM Learning Network and all schools interested in showing their students the promise of STEM career."

The online platform, www.OH.makerminded.com, is expected to connect Ohio's middle and high school students to over 150 leading-edge STEM and advanced manufacturing education experiences, while galvanizing participating students and schools around a student-driven, pro-manufacturing campaign and competition.

The goal is to provide students access to the right programs that will encourage and prepare them for further education and careers in advanced manufacturing, the press release detailed.

"Manufacturers across the country fear a widening skills gap, which could result in 2 million jobs going unfilled unless we take action now to prepare today's students for tomorrow's jobs," LIFT Director of Education and Workforce Emily DeRocco said in the statement. "MakerMinded shows the magic that happens when we empower young people with the opportunities, inspiration, and tools they need to gain in-demand skills and pursue meaningful careers."

The platform includes a searchable database of both national and local student programs, including online and in-person experiences, from manufacturing facility tours to engineering design challenges to technical skills competitions.

Examples of programs include Learning Blade, a mission-driven online STEM curriculum, robotics competitions, EduFACTOR and eCYBERMission, the announcement continued.

As students complete activities and programs, schools receive points and compete against other schools in Ohio. The competition culminates in a recognition event and prizes for the schools and students accumulating the most points for completing the most activities.

"As the state's largest sector, Ohio manufacturers employ around 700,000 Ohioans with a total payroll of $39 billion," said Eric Burkland, president of the Ohio Manufacturers' Association." "We are proud to stand behind MakerMinded as an initiative that will help companies connect to the future talent they need to grow and ensure that workforce has the skills to excel."

On its website, MakerMinded identifies its challenge as the anticipated 2 million unfilled jobs in the wake of the nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs expected to become available in the next 10 years as today's K-12 students are enter the workforce.

"This 'skills gap' can partly be attributed to students' negative image of the manufacturing industry and their lack of STEM skills, which are essential for the growing jobs in advanced manufacturing," the website noted.

The fix, of course, lies in changing these mindsets and empowering students to take action.

"MakerMinded embeds in schools proven interventions and strategies specifically where the STEM workforce pipeline begins to break - during the formative years of middle and high school - when students are making decisions about further education and careers," the website detailed.

Despite the more than 1,200 STEM initiatives countrywide, organizers recognized that many schools, students, and parents lack awareness and access to the right program, with students missing out on opportunities to engage in early STEM learning.

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