Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Business, College Leaders Gather for 'STEM2' Event; Event Designed to Spur More Interest in Science, Technology, Engineering

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Business, College Leaders Gather for 'STEM2' Event; Event Designed to Spur More Interest in Science, Technology, Engineering

Article excerpt

Byline: Rhema Thompson

Outside the university auditorium where dozens of educators, school board members and lawmakers filed in, University of North Florida engineering senior Marshall Curry showed off the large drone-like submarine he'd spent the last five months creating with classmates.

"Here we have the prototype design ... We have to program it to be autonomous," he said.

Curry and seven other engineering students in UNF's TeleRobotics Club, are building the robotic submarine to compete in the U.S. Naval Research-sponsored International RoboSub Competition in California this July.

The device was one of several projects crafted at UNF, the Museum of Science and History, and Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens that were on display at the kickoff to the region's first annual STEM2 Forum. That's STEM2 - or STEMM - as in the Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Medical fields, where jobs are expected to grow by a rate of about 17 percent over the next decade.

The event marked the launch of The Northeast Florida Regional STEM2 Hub, a seven-county entity aimed at pushing growth in STEM-related fields here on the First Coast.

"Our goal is to introduce the region to the STEMM hub to introduce them to the challenges that we have around STEMM education and to ensure that we have a world-class STEMM education for all of our children in our region," said Wanyonyi Kendrick, former chief information officer for JEA, who is leading the initiative along with Florida Board of Education Chairman Gary Chartrand.

Chartrand began exploring the idea with other members of the nonprofit and business community in fall 2014.

"Gary's really talking about trying to create a movement here, where we get a national reputation here for heightened STEMM consciousness, heightened graduates out of the classroom with that interest, heightened interest in majors at the university level and then, businesses will say, 'Hey, that's where we can go to get that talent,' " said UNF President John Delaney.

More than 300 school teachers, administrators, school board members and business leaders attended the four-hour forum at UNF's Adam W. …

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