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6th Annual Community Career+Education Forum Coming Up September 19

Writer / Megan Stephens
Photography Provided

STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The acronym has been used often through education outlets within the past several years, making an impression on both educators and students, but do we really know what it means in the career field?

STEMEndress+Hauser, a global process automation company whose U.S. headquarters is in Greenwood, has stepped up to help bridge the technical skills gap that exists in the industry.  In an effort to raise awareness, educate and inform the community about the skilled trades, technical careers and advanced manufacturing opportunities available to them locally, Endress+Hauser, along with ASPIRE Johnson County and Central Nine Career Center, have pioneered an event geared towards middle schoolers – the Community Career+Education Forum. The 6th annual Community Career Education Forum (CCEF) on September 19, is aimed to inform, inspire and raise awareness about local career opportunities in the STEM field to middle schoolers in the Johnson County area and surrounding communities, their parents and educators.

“We have organizations from the community who believe in this long term, proactive strategic approach to the talent pipeline,” says Brandyn Ferguson Vice President of Human Resources at Endress+Hauser. “Many things can and will happen if we believe in this generation.”

The forum will not only show middle schoolers the different career paths they can take with manufacturing and technical jobs, it will also give them an opportunity to interact with hands-on activities and people directly from the field.

What Will Be There?

Robotics, interactive booths, games, and active 3-D printing are just a few activities you can expect. There will be no shortage of things to do and learn in the three-hour event.

Have you always been curious about what goes on at Cummins, Duke Energy or Caterpillar?  Now is your time to find out. Cummins, Duke Energy, and Caterpillar are three of the industry partners that have participated in the past few years.  Every year, CCEF has nearly 30 industry exhibitors in attendance.  Industry partners set up interactive booths where students, parents, and educators can stop by to speak with a company representative and to gather information about their company and what they do.  This is a chance to see real equipment from the companies, too.

“We have booths set up at the event staffed with employees in specific careers,” Ferguson says. “They are able to inform attendees on the path that took them to get where they are, the education they received, the company they work for, what they do at their job and why they do it.”

“We have many opportunities for the students, educators and parents to engage in fun activities during the event” says Juliana Cleveland, Event planner for Endress+Hauser. “We have games like Are you Smarter than An Engineer? where kids can answer math and science questions against one of Endress+Hauser’s engineers.”

Robotics teams will show off their robots in demonstrations and will be able to answer questions from those who might be interested in participating in robotics in the future. Both Johnson County and Greenwood libraries also participate in the forum. They highlight the STEM initiatives that are happening in their branches. 

Who’s Behind It?

The forum is a collaboration between Endress+Hauser, Central Nine Career Center and Aspire Johnson County.

“Central Nine is the connection to the school systems,” Ferguson says. “Aspire Johnson County is the connection to the industries. We’re here as the host, main funder and the thought leaders.”

STEMTheir goal is to create a space that allows participants to see the local opportunities that are available in construction, manufacturing, HVAC, electrical, technical or skilled trades. From there, they will know if they want to study to become an HVAC technician at hvactraininghq.com.

Not only is the forum a great way for students and parents to learn about future opportunities, there are also opportunities for educators to receive a classroom STEM grant.

“Retaining, inspiring and raising awareness of local opportunities is what the forum is all about,” says Ferguson.  “Networking among the industry partners and the educators is another added benefit of the forum.  Educators are always looking for companies to partner with on multiple levels.”

“Educators often have creative projects and ideas that they would like to implement in their classroom but don’t have the funding to see it through to fruition.  Many times, teachers fund their projects with their own earnings.  Through CCEF, educators can apply for a classroom STEM grant.  Educators fill out an application form describing their STEM-related classroom project and how much it would cost to execute.  The CCEF committee reviews the submissions and roughly $10,000 is awarded in the process.”

“Last year there were multiple submissions received, one being from a middle school science teacher who had the idea for an aquaponics project,” says Jackie Renforth, Content Development Specialist at Endress+Hauser. “Students were able to learn hands-on how to sustainably maintain an ecosystem right in their classroom.

You Don’t Want To Miss This.

Working to join talent, curiosity and ambition with technology and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Endress+Hauser and CCEF industry partners truly believe the generation that will be entering the workforce can solve the world’s challenges.

“This is a unique opportunity,” Ferguson says. “Up until the last six years, this type of community event did not exist where parents or guardians can take their kids and learn about hundreds of different job opportunities available here locally. It’s going to be the best three hours you’ve spent for you and your child since Disney World.”

Interested in Attending? Visit www.us.endress.com/ccef to register.

If you are a local middle school STEM educator and are interested in applying for STEM grant, please email ccef.us.sc@endress.com

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