State University of New York Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson spoke passionately about the importance of STEM education recently during a keynote address she gave at Alfred State College.
Speaking to educators of all levels at the 2019 New York State STEM Education Collaborative (NYSSEC) STEM Summer Institute, Johnson reflected on how several of her instructors instilled in her a love of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) when she was in junior high and high school. The chancellor explained how one physics experiment she had performed as a student in 1975 helped her figure out a problem she faced as an energy industry professional during the 2010 BP oil spill.
“You never know how every kid that you teach every day may change the world by something you said or something you encouraged them to do,” she said.
Johnson also told the crowd, “Some of the experiences that I gained when I was in the classroom really paid off in terms of helping me find out my particular path.”
At another point in her address, Johnson applauded Alfred State and noted her excitement about getting to tour several facilities on the college’s main campus after delivering her speech. Alfred State, she said, “has developed an international reputation for engaging innovative and cutting-edge research and development in STEM programming.”
Near the end of her remarks, Johnson noted that the annual three-day conference is about far more than illuminating the importance of the technical sciences in society, saying, “It’s really about the future of our society and our economy.”
She also concluded, “The future belongs to nations that understand the importance of STEM education.”
In addition to the SUNY chancellor, two other speakers provided keynote addresses at the conference. They were SUNY Fredonia Distinguished Teaching Professor in Mathematics Dr. Robert Rogers and Clarkson University President Dr. Anthony Collins.
Numerous educators and industry professionals gathered for the annual event in an effort to discuss and share best practices for increasing interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers among young men and women.
This year’s event featured 50 cutting-edge presentations, as well as tours of Alfred State’s Micro-Nano Fabrication Laboratory, and agriculture and nursing facilities. The full conference provided up to 17 hours of Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) certified professional development hours.
Additionally, several STEM leaders were presented with the 2019 Summer Institute Margaret Ashida STEM Leadership Award, which seeks to honor those who are making significant STEM connections within their community through their time, actions, talents, and dedication.
This year’s honorees included Jennifer Leonberger, instructional support teacher at Greater Southern Tier (GST) BOCES; Ellen Falk, a mathematics teacher at North Salem High School; Dr. Lorena Harris, the director of the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (C-STEP) and the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation Program (LSAMP) at SUNY Schenectady; Lisa Blank, the director of STEM programs for the Watertown Central School District; and James King, a partner at King + King Architects.
Dr. Craig Clark, vice president for Economic Development at Alfred State, said, “This year’s institute again included great presentations and keynotes that allow faculty to connect and continue to improve STEM education. Thank you to the SUNY chancellor, as well as all of our speakers, presenters, attendees, and supporters for once again making this conference such a success.”