UVU STEM open house enlists tech-savvy women

Nestled beneath the trees near the Computer Science Building, about 50 students, faculty and community members gathered outside for the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Open House Thursday, Sept. 7, sponsored by the College of Technology and Computing and Women in Technology. The open house was held for female students pursuing fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to learn more about the benefits of careers in these areas.

Dr. Cheryl Hanewicz, technology management department chair, spearheaded the event where students had an opportunity to meet professors who showed support for graduates within the STEM areas.

“There’s not a lot of women in the fields, but these are the high-paying fields,” Hanewicz said. “Diversity in the work field is so important for a number of reasons, but one more practical reason is the ‘2020 plan.’ [The Utah System of Higher Education] is trying to get 66 percent of Utahns to have a certificate or higher by the year 2020, and we’re not going to do that without getting more women into both college and in the STEM fields.”

In 2010, the Utah Board of Regents and former Commissioner of Higher Education initiated a goal that 66 percent of men and women, ages 25-64, will have earned a bachelor’s degree or certificate by 2020 in an effort to increase higher education completion rates in the state of Utah.

Lynne Yocom, a recent UVU graduate in information systems, works for the Utah Department of Transportation as an ITS Fiber Optics Manager. Yocom began her career with UDOT before she graduated from UVU. She came to the event to support female students working towards technology careers.

“Women bring different perspectives to different projects that you handle,” Yocom said. “We bring in diversity. There’s not enough diversity if you don’t have enough women-to-men ratio for a project. We look at things differently, and that’s a strength to an organization.”

Beth Ipson, a major in digital media with emphases in gaming and animation, said she came to the event to learn what networking opportunities were available for students like her. Ipson said her classes often lack female students.

“All I see are guys in my major,” Ipson said. “When I walk in the first day of class, I’m always excited when there’s one other girl and I go sit by her.”

Sharesa Wight, a digital media major with emphases in Internet technologies, attended the STEM Open House and said she has known what she wanted to major in since high school. Wight said she is eager to move forward in her career.

“I came to get ideas about where to get jobs and internships. All I’ve ever done are receptionist jobs and I want to dig into something more in the field,” Wight said.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment outlook for computer systems design is expected to increase by 47 percent, stemming from a growing demand for network and mobile technologies.

For more information about the College of Technology and Computing, visit adviser offices in CS 635.


source: http://www.uvureview.com/2012/09/17/stem-open-house-enlists-tech-savvy-women/


New initiative to bolster Utah tech sector

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah is embarking on a long-term plan to create the workforce of tomorrow for the numerous high tech jobs that local companies have begun producing.

Prosperity 2020 business and education partners on Thursday launched an effort to establish the greater Salt Lake area as a top 10 center for technology jobs and businesses. Gov. Gary Herbert said the effort will begin with a statewide planning process to identify and build on current successes and create greater collaboration in science technology, engineering and math education.

Prosperity 2020 is a coalition of business leaders who have come together to improve Utah’s educational outcomes through investment, innovation and accountability. The key goals of the program are to have 66 percent of Utahns attain post-secondary certificates and degrees by 2020, have 90 percent of Utah elementary students be proficient in reading and math as well as help the greater Salt Lake area become a top 10 center in technology jobs and businesses.

“Great jobs and businesses start with well educated workers,” said Herbert. “By bringing industry and education together, we start recruiting tomorrow’s scientists in today’s classrooms.”

The governor noted that Utah currently has hundreds of high-paying jobs that have gone unfilled due to the lack of qualified applicants in the technology field. Part of the mission of the Prosperity 2020 plan is to develop a well-trained, homegrown workforce that can fill that employment void, he said.

The point person for the initiative will be Stan Lockhart, government relations manager for Lehi-based IM Flash. He is charged with facilitating collaboration among industry and educators to give students a strong foundation in S.T.E.M. fields.

“We are truly looking for the very best practices in the world that can improve our children’s skills with science, math, technology and engineering,” Lockhart said.

The next several months will be spent looking at business, technology and education models used in other states as well as abroad. He said the ideal scenario would be to learn the best policies and practices already in use elsewhere and implement the most successful ideas into a Utah-oriented program.

 “When we get to the legislative session, we want to have a fully vetted product that has clearly defined outcomes where we have clearly defined improvements that we want to make so that our children are learning more,” he explained. “It will be a process of figuring out a logical way to proceed where we can get the right policies in place, the right curriculum, the right processes and do it in a timeline that our state can afford.”

While the state makes a push to improve education and fill the tech employment vacuum, Utah’s largest institution of higher learning announced its increasing success in cultivating new businesses.  

For the second straight year, the University of Utah was No. 1 in the nation at starting companies based on research for the annual survey by the Association of University of Technology Managers. The survey ranks U.S. universities and institutions on commercialization success, including startup formation, invention disclosures, patents and technology licenses.

The report — which measured fiscal year 2010 — showed that the U. had 18 startup companies from July 1, 2009, to June 30, 2010, slightly besting MIT at 17. BYU was also among the top institutions with 13 startups, while Ivy League schools Columbia and Cornell had 12, followed by Johns Hopkins and Purdue University at 11, with Cal Tech, Carnegie Mellon and the University of Michigan all registering 10 new firms.

The report also stated that the University of Utah has had 220 startups since its first in 1970. According to the Bureau of Business and Economic Research, in fiscal year 2011, U. startups accounted for 16,600 direct or indirect jobs, $95.3 million in state tax revenue and almost $778 million in personal income.

The AUTM survey collected information from 155 universities, along with 27 hospitals and research institutions as well as a third party management company. The study showed that those institutions created 651 new startups — an average of four per institution.

The survey also indicated that the University of Utah performed favorably in numerous other categories as well, including 208 invention disclosures — compared to the national average of 113; 41 U.S. patents compared to 24 nationally; and 287 active technology licenses compared to the national average of 210.

By the numbers

• $393 million total research funds awarded

• 200 faculty inventors; 115 repeat, 85 new inventors

• 275 intellectual property disclosures

• 3,790 students involved in commercialization and innovation

• 80 technology licenses

source: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865561915/New-initiative-to-bolster-Utah-tech-sector.html



Chevron's Fuel Your School Program Expands to Support Nine Communities Across the U.S.

Chevron U.S.A. Inc. announced the expansion of its Fuel Your School program to nine communities this fall from two communities in 2011. Fuel Your School will provide useful funding for eligible classroom projects developed by public school teachers and posted to DonorsChoose.org in the following communities:

-- Alameda and Contra Costa counties, California

-- Orange County, California

-- Kern County, California

-- Sacramento County, California

-- St. Tammany, Orleans and Plaquemines parishes, Louisiana

-- Jackson County, Mississippi

-- Multnomah County, Oregon

-- Harris County, Texas

-- Salt Lake and Davis counties, Utah

Chevron will donate $1 for every eight gallon or larger fill up from Oct. 1 to Oct. 31 at participating Chevron and Texaco stations in those communities, up to a total contribution of nearly $5 million.

"Educating today's students remains critical to our country's future, but America's schools face significant challenges and have fallen behind in science, technology, engineering and math," said Dale Walsh, president of Chevron Americas Products. "Fuel Your School provides teachers with essential tools and resources that help students learn, explore and get excited about STEM education to help prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow."

The program is an innovative collaboration with DonorsChoose.org, an online charity to help students in need. All year, public school teachers across the U.S. post classroom project requests on DonorsChoose.org, ranging from pencils to microscope slides and even live tarantulas for use with biology lessons.

"Teachers spend more than $350 of their own money every year on materials for their students," said Charles Best, CEO of DonorsChoose.org. "Our site enables public school teachers to post projects for funding from their community and companies like Chevron who want to improve students' education."

The lack of adequate school funding across the nation has become so dire that some teachers do not have basic supplies to help students complete their classroom assignments. During the last school year, public school teachers shared more than 100,000 requests on the DonorsChoose.org website. One of those requests came from Ms. Lim-Breitbart, who teaches high school physics at Aspire California College Preparatory Academy in Berkeley, Calif., but lacked the resources to provide students with hands-on scientific activities. With the help of the Fuel Your School program, she and her students received digital thermometers and hot plates to use during physics lessons.

"[The] donation helped change our classroom from 'getting by' to 'doing real science' this year," said Lim-Breitbart. Students now believe that "science is a real option for them in the future."

Chevron partners with local communities, governments and non-profit organizations to increase learning opportunities for students and support the social and economic vitality of communities where the company has significant business operations. Chevron has contributed nearly $100 million for education in the U.S. over the past three years.

Since its inception in 2010, Fuel Your School has funded more than 3,000 classroom projects at nearly 600 schools, and the program has grown each year to support students in additional communities. Public school teachers and other educators are invited to post eligible projects starting on September 1 to www.DonorsChoose.org, for possible funding as part of the Fuel Your School program.

Consumers can track the classroom projects in need of funding and see how much money is being earned for public schools in each city by visiting www.FuelYourSchool.com. Donations earned through Fuel Your School will be used to fund eligible classroom projects from Oct. 2 through Nov. 30, 2012, or until funds generated by this program have been exhausted by eligible projects. Consumers and Chevron employees may also independently fund classroom projects on the DonorsChoose.org website by making separate, individual donations.

WGU -- Number One U.S. Provider of Master's Degrees for Math Teachers
SALT LAKE CITY - Western Governors University (WGU), www.wgu.edu , is leading the way in producing K-12 math and science educators, according to a recent study conducted by education research and consulting group Eduventures. The study, which used data collected by the U.S. Department of Education, found that in 2011, WGU was the nation's largest provider of master's degree programs in math education. In addition, WGU was the third largest provider of master's degrees in science education and fourth largest provider of bachelor's degrees in math education. The nonprofit, online university is also a top provider of bachelor's and master's degrees in science education, including Biology, Chemistry, Physics, General Science, and Earth Sciences.
Established just nine years ago, WGU's NCATE-accredited Teachers College has 11,000 students and 9,000 graduates nationwide. Since its inception, the Teachers College has focused on developing and training teachers in the high need areas of math and science education. WGU math and science graduates compare very favorably to their counterparts at other universities in the PRAXIS exams (the national tests required for teacher certification)--in the past year, WGU graduates scored higher than the national average on 9 of the 10 math and science exams.
Currently, U.S. students rank 23rd in math among students in the top 65 industrialized countries in the world, and the demand for more college graduates in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields is continuing to grow. According to the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, "Economic forecasts point to a need for producing, over the next decade, approximately 1 million more college graduates in STEM fields than expected under current assumptions."
"Our rigorous programs are designed to produce teachers who can provide their students with a solid foundation in math and science," said WGU Teachers College Dean Dr. Philip A. Schmidt. "Because WGU uses a competency-based learning model that requires students to demonstrate mastery of all subject matter in their degree programs, our graduates are well prepared to teach these challenging subjects."
More information is available at www.wgu.edu or by calling 866.225.5948.

Utah among lowest in nation for women graduates in non-traditional fields


Last month, as students across the state graduated from college, higher education institutions took notice of the fields women have earned a Bachelor's degree in as well as those who haven't. 


Utah has one of the lowest college graduation rates for women in degrees of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) as well as business.


Individual institutions have been tracking this data as well as researchers, like Utah Valley University's Dr. Susan Madsen, with the goal of using the data to come up with solutions to get women into these fields.


Madsen says while the national average for women graduating in STEM is about 30 percent, Utah is at 20 percent. Even worse is Utah women graduating in business at 30 percent while nationally women graduate in business at 50 percent. 


"Some women don’t even open their minds to these fields," Madsen says. "They could have loved it and been good at it, and made a difference in that area."


It is interesting and important to note, Madsen says, that in Utah more women students graduate in trade fields like cosmetology and culinary arts than they do nationally. Utah women who are graduating at the Bachelor’s level are more likely to earn a degree in education, health, or social services according to a 2010 brief from the Utah Women and Education Project, a study in which Madsen was the lead researcher. 


The study is being utilized by the recently commissioned Utah Women's College Task Force, which was commissioned by Gov. Herbert in 2011 to figure out how to get more women to graduate from college since Utah is the lowest state with female college graduation rates. But the state should also pay attention to what women are graduating in, or more importantly, what they are not graduating in, Madsen points out.


Nationwide, women generally graduate less in non-traditional fields such as math and engineering, but the fact that Utah is even more behind is of particular concern. 


"This issue matters to the economic development of the state," Madsen says. "We have companies considering coming to Utah who are asking where they can get more women with MBAs. They want a more diverse workforce, and they can't get it here." 


Another issue is that, generally, traditional female occupations are lower paying, and the fields like engineering and business are some of the highest paying fields.


"In today’s society you may never marry, or get divorced, or you may need to support you and your family and having a lower paying job can make that difficult," Madsen says. 


Elementary school teachers have a very set schedule and little flexibility, but the benefits of having a business degree are having flexibility, being able to work at home, start your own company, etc.


"And," Madsen continues, "the most successful entrepreneurs are ones that have education. Accounting and leadership are also great skills to have to volunteer in the community."


Figuring out the 'why' is just as important as the 'how to fix it,' and many institutions and companies are turning to Madsen to help find answers.

In Utah, a state with a strong emphasis on family and a high-birth rate, Madsen is finding women here see traditional female roles like elementary school teaching, nursing and social work as preparatory for having children.


"For some reason, women don’t see STEM and business as good fields for them to go into," Madsen says. "Nearly every Utah university or college is concerned about this, and that is the discussion that is happening now - how do we change this."


In her research, as well as studies done nationally, several things that need to happen have come to attention.


A social marketing campaign is needed to educate women about what STEM and business majors are and what these majors could make possible for them, Madsen said.


A serious issue is that in STEM majors there are very few female faculty, and for many women students it is hard for them to visualize themselves being successful in the field if they don't have teacher role models like them, Madsen explains.


"The more female faculty, the more female students those fields attract," Madsen said. 


And along with that issue is that lack of female co-students, creating a chicken-and-egg scenario.  For example, in business management and leadership classes taught by Madsen at UVU it is not uncommon to have three women in a class of 36 students.


UVU is particularly low in graduating women in business at 19 percent. Utah State University seems to be faring a little better in business, with women making up about 35 percent of 2011 graduates (2012's data will be available in September).


Engineering is a field very few women graduate from nationally, about 18 percent. In Utah, it is about 12 percent. Utah State University is particularly struggling, with women accounting for about nine percent of engineering graduates.


"Many young women don’t want to go into a class where they are the exception. People look around and say ‘You’re the girl in the class,'" Madsen says. "We know from anecdotal evidence they will turn around and say, 'This just isn’t a place I belong.'"



source: http://www.cachevalleydaily.com/story/utah-among-lowest-in-nation-when-graduating-women-in-non-traditional-fields-part-1-20120605


Southern Utah University is excited to announce a new partnership with the Iron County School District that will open new doors for local school children when North Elementary pilots Iron County’s first STEM School this fall. 

The school will draw upon the talents of experienced educators throughout the district and the energy and fresh perspective from pre-service teachers from SUU to increase its emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education by integrating other core subjects, such as the language arts, theater and art, into all science-based curriculum. This new school, officially named “Cedar North Elementary: an SUU Partnership School,” will utilize innovative teaching technologies and creative curriculum to provide an education unlike any other in southern Utah. 

To accommodate interested parents and students from across the region, Iron County School District has designated North Elementary as an open enrollment school, beginning in the 2012-13 school year. This means students from other areas of the city beyond North’s traditional boundaries may enroll in STEM freely. This open enrollment period ends February 17, 2012. 

To assist parents who may be considering enrolling their children in STEM, SUU and the school district will host an open house on Thursday, February 9, where Iron County School District Superintendent Jim Johnson will be on hand to field questions, as will SUU Education professors and administrators. The informative open house will run from 4–6 p.m. in the Shooting Star Room of the Hunter Conference Center on SUU’s campus. 

STEM addresses a pressing need in public as well as higher education for increased interest in science and math. Early, repeated and focused exposure to these fields is critical to pique students’ interest and make them comfortable with what are often considered challenging subjects. 

At its heart, according to its mission statement, the STEM Partnership School will be “A learning laboratory and professional development center committed to educational innovation and renewal,” the principal goals being to promote student achievement, engage in collaborative research, provide professional development and growth and encourage family and community collaboration. 

To do this, SUU will place pre-service teachers (college students who are studying to become certified teachers) in North Elementary’s classrooms to assist teachers and students. North’s teachers and students will also gain access to SUU professors who are experts in areas such as biology, astronomy, physics, math and chemistry. 

According to North Elementary Principal Ray Whittier, “SUU’s significant presence in the school will be very helpful as we work to meet the needs of individual students with an increased adult presence in the classrooms.” 

With SUU’s help, North Elementary’s teachers and administrators will remain current on the latest STEM teaching techniques and students will have access to the very latest in math and science curriculum and teaching practices. 

In turn, according to Whittier, North Elementary has assembled a team of many of the district’s top educators who “will serve as an excellent resource to SUU professors and students as they observe and contribute to education in a ‘real life setting’.” 

For more information about STEM or to enroll your elementary-aged child at North Elementary for the upcoming school year, contact the Iron County School District Office on Royal Hunt Drive. 

While open enrollment closes February 17, all students who live within the boundaries of North Elementary will be ensured a place in its classes.