On Monday, April 23, 2012, I participated in a roundtable discussion at Explorer Middle School with local leaders from both the private and public sectors about initiatives that inspire Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) in today’s K-12 students. I was honored to be invited to participate in the event because I firmly believe that educating and inspiring our children in the areas of STEM is vital to our future. The children of today are the leaders of tomorrow, and it is our duty to ensure that we help them grow into the best leaders that they can be.
Surrounding our roundtable were students showing off their science projects, fair style. I especially enjoyed meeting Peter Kienast, a retired Engineer who donates his time as an Outreach Volunteer at Crest Engineering. Crest is a science and technology program available to high school students as an alternative curriculum in the Paradise Valley High School District. Seeing the connection Peter had with two of the Crest students who were at the event, and the level of passion they had for science, convinced me to offer them an on-site visit and tour of the Go Daddy Data Center.
The nonpartisan roundtable, led by U.S. Representative Ben Quayle (Ariz.), was attended by:
Business Community Representatives:
- Darcy Renfro, Vice President and Director of STEM Initiatives, Science Foundation Arizona
- Steve Zylestra, President & CEO, Arizona Technology Council
- Robert Rasmussen, Director of Engineering, Honeywell
- Carlos Cantreras,U.S. Education Director, Intel Corporation
- Dave Koopman, Chief Scientist, Go Daddy
- Tim Walker, Senior Manager, General Dynamics
- Dr. Jim Lee – Superintendant Paradise Valley School District
- Ms. Mariann Bursi – Principal, Explorer Middle School
- Ms. Linda Coyle – K-12 CTE/STEM Curriculum Specialist
The message I brought to the table:
Go Daddy is the world’s largest Web hosting provider and domain name registrar, with nearly 3500 employees, 120 open positions, tens of thousands of servers in world-class data centers, and no signs of slowing growth. It is in our best interest, and that of our nation’s economy, to do everything we can to help build the next generation of engineers and computer scientists. Here are a few of the things we’ve been doing:
- For the past two school years, Go Daddy has sponsored iProjects at ASU College of Technology and Innovation. In iProjects, students collaborate with Go Daddy Engineers on a real project as part of their class curriculum.
- Last year, Go Daddy launched an internship program and hired 18 interns for the summer. Some have stayed to continue to work part-time through the school year. We have another group of interns lined-up for this summer and still a few open spots.
- This year, Go Daddy offered $120 gift cards to all Arizona-based FIRST teams. FIRST is a high school robotics competition that celebrates STEM. We’re also inviting two FIRST teams to attend our internal technology conference, TechFest, to demo their robots and tell nearly 1000 Go Daddy Engineers and Operators how they may mentor or donate their expertise and time next year.
Some ideas that came out of the roundtable for improving STEM programs, in a very short summary:
- Allow K-12 shadowing – Private companies can let students visit their offices to see what it’s like to work there.
- Provide sponsorship – Private companies may sponsor local STEM programs.
- Encourage mentors – Private companies can encourage employees to donate their time, and even allow them time off from work to mentor students.
- Create a STEM culture – Schools can build STEM into the culture of the school, method of teaching, and encourage it in the philosophies of the parents.
- Make STEM a team sport – Instead of individual study for a grade, forming teams helps teach students to work together to solve problems. Fostering healthy competition between teams adds a sense of excitement and importance, which are essential for deep learning.
I understand that it’s sometimes hard for private companies, especially small ones, to make commitments such as these due to the pressures to turn a profit. But, I urge you to dig deep and find a way to give back to the education of our children. These young people are our future. Let’s give them the tools and experiences they need to innovate and do amazing things.