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STEMtech in the ATL

After working for a year now at the National Convergence Technology Center (CTC), I’ve not gone through the cycle of conferences. (I’m helping now prepare for our involvement in the November 15 Texas Community College Technology Forum, which is where things were when I started last November. Circle of life.) Of all the conferences the CTC regularly attends, for me, thus far, STEMtech might be my favorite conference, if only because of the impressive breadth and depth of breakout sessions. There’s a lot to choose from and something for everyone. It reminded of me of a previous job attending film festivals, where if you planned wisely, you could fill your day with five or six movies back to back.

At STEMtech, I was able to attend 11 sessions:

1. “Tranferrable AAS Degree” provided a detailed look at how one community college struggled to create an articulation agreement with a local university. In addition to the simple logistics of working out these kinds of programs, there’s also a great deal of institutional resistance from the four-year universities.

2. “Using Multimedia to Recruit” looked at how one community college created personalized “baseball cards” for STEM summer campers as a way to help market the program.

3. “Collaboration with Education and Industry” providing an overall look at one commmunity college’s organizational and programmatic structure.

4. “STEM Boot Camps” was maybe one of my favorite sessions, offering a detailed look at a STEM camp that provided campers with a quick overlook of numerous STEM fields. To do this, the camp employed a number of fun science experiments that reminded me of the old “Mr. Wizard’s World” show.

5. “Meauring Grit” offered some interesting research into ways of measuring persistence among community college students. They likened this test to a themometer – you’re measuring their grit to decide how best to help the student.

6. “How to Get Students Interested in IT” took a look at the many barriers present that keep “millennial” students out of STEM. This is obviously an ongoing concern and lots of smart people are working very hard to find solutions.

7. “Creating STEM Outreach Materials” was another strong session, examining how one urban community college conducted detailed market surveys of its community and then developed marketing strategies and plans to draw more students to STEM. The college paid 27 local STEM high school teachers to attend training in how to engage underserved populations and use cutting-edge STEM pedagogy.

8. “Building Steam for STEAM” provided a look at two urban magnet public schools and how they worked with the community to attract more students to STEM.

9. “Cartoons and Statistics” explored the value of using comic strips or cartoons in a STEM lesson plan to provide visual aids for complex scientific concepts.

10. “To Flip or Not to Flip” examined the new trend of “flipped classrooms” that bring homework into the clasroom and put the lectures online for viewing at home. It was great to hear in detail – including specific applications and tools – how one community college STEM department implemented this plan.

11. “Building Equity in the STEM Classroom” covered a topic I’ve learned a lot about over last few months: how “micromessages” can be creating barriers that keep female students out of STEM. A topic of discussion in this class that also appeared in others concerned the way pop culture shapes STEM perceptions. Is “The Big Bang Theory” a good thing or a bad thing for STEM?

And now a quick photo diary.


The late night flight from Dallas to Atlanta wasn’t full, which meant an aisle seat for me.


The CTC’s portion of the shared ATE Center booth.



The lobby of the Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Atlanta, but note that the Corner Bakery across the street closes at 4pm. I was stuck buying a lot of expensive meals in the hotel lobby.



One of two CTC-led breakout sessions, this one on the importance of allowing business leaders to steer your curriculum. That’s fearless leader Ann Beheler with Comerica VP Tu Huynh.



And this breakout session looked at the value of stackable certificates, which helps students get the skills they need and helps colleges count more completes in their outcomes. Ann Beheler again, this time with CTC partner Bill Saichek from Orange Coast College in California.


Were you at STEMtech? What sessions did you attend? Did you see the 3-D printer?

P.S. Save the date for the 2014 STEMtech conference in Denver, CO: November 9-12, 2014



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