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Boeing, AT&T bring STEM careers to life for students

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Who wouldn’t be excited about a career that involved flying an F-18 fighter plane? Giving students a chance to fly an F-18 simulator was one of the experiences the Missouri Chamber lined up for participants in the 2016 STEM Day at the Capitol in Jefferson City on Mar. 3.  Some of Missouri’s largest employers, including Boeing and AT&T, were on hand to help build excitement about STEM careers for the hundreds of students and educators that participated in the annual event.

DSC_0635“We love it from Boeing’s perspective,” said John Keevan, Boeing’s manager of naval programs flight simulation. “We’re constantly in search for new talent – new engineers, new technicians – that we can bring into the aircraft programs in St. Louis and all around the world. Seeing the excitement and passion in these kids, well, we get more out of it sometimes than the kids do.”

Madeline Romious, vice president of AT&T Missouri, helped students and even a few legislators try out a virtual visor system that surrounds a wearer with a virtual, interactive world. The display was designed to make students think about their future.

“STEM is critical; it is our future,” Romious said. “And STEM is critical to our business. We are so much more than your wireless provider. There is a lot of science, technology, engineering and math that goes into our business – when you pick up your phone and expect a signal, cloud computing and now, virtual reality.”

Romious hopes that every student that stopped by the AT&T booth was inspired to learn more about STEM careers.

DSC_0643“What I hope they take away, what I see they are taking away, from today is excitement to learn, to innovate and try something new,” Romious said.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry is a strong supporter of science and math education in Missouri. Through the Missouri Chamber Foundation’s Mathematics and Science Coalition, the chamber engages businesses and education leaders statewide to help ensure Missouri’s students are prepared to enter tomorrow’s workforce.

“Missouri STEM Day is one of the most enjoyable events that happen during the legislative session. It showcases of some of our state’s brightest students and it’s a reminder of the importance of math and science education,” said Daniel P. Mehan, Missouri Chamber president and CEO. “We bring this to the capitol each year to help remind our policymakers about the amazing things happening in our classrooms. We want to ensure this work is not forgotten during the budget-making process.”

The event also highlighted the importance of encouraging women to pursue STEM careers. Lt. Governor Peter Kinder of Missouri kicked of the day by presenting a proclamation supporting girls and women in STEM and launching the Million Women Mentors (MWM) initiative in Missouri.

DSC_0619Million Women Mentors is a national movement aimed at getting more women involved in STEM through mentoring. Nationwide, more than 500,000 STEM professionals are involved in MWM. Through involvement by companies like Boeing, AT&T, Mastercard, Monsanto and the Missouri Mathematics and Science Coalition, Missouri’s presence in MWM is growing.

Sheila Boyington, senior advisor, national states chair of Million Women Mentors, joined the STEM Day celebration.

“As a woman engineer, I have grown up in this country and see the fantastic opportunities that a STEM background can lead you,” said Boyington. “Corporations are looking for the intra-preneur, people who can be innovative in the settings they are put in. STEM also provides entrepreneurship opportunities, where you can create things that are helping to solve society’s problems. For girls, in particular, they enjoy career paths where they are helping people.”

For more information on the Missouri Chamber’s education programs, contact Brian Crouse, vice president of education, at bcrouse@mochamber.com or by phone at 573-634-3511.

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