WashingtonExec Founder and President JD Kathuria recently spoke with Jonathan Aberman on Federal News Radio about the importance of STEM education and the role WashingtonExec’s K-12 STEM Symposium plays in bridging the workforce pipeline gap in areas such as IT government contracting.
“What I saw was most of the STEM conferences I had been to focused on college students or people in the workforce, and there were a lot of policy people talking to policy people,” Kathuria said on the show. “So, we saw a gap in bringing people, kids, nonprofit, business and government leaders around an annual event in this area.”
The first symposium was in 2013 and drew about 2,500 attendees. It has grown since and is expected to convene more than 4,000 individuals this year. Held at the Nysmith School for the Gifted in Herndon, Virginia, the April 14 event will feature dozens of speakers, exhibitors and student presentations in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math.
Speakers and presenters include representatives from government, corporate, academic and nonprofit organizations. By connecting all the players in one day-long symposium, the event aims to help high school and grade school students understand the link between STEM classes and potential careers.
This year’s theme, “Super STEM: Building Tomorrow’s Superheroes, Today” reflects the idea that we live in a celebrity culture.
“What we’re trying to do in our event is help make STEM cool, see people who are doing interesting things around all the areas, something that people can see themselves doing,” Kathuria said.
The event also aims to support parents who didn’t delve deep into STEM skills themselves so they, in turn, can support their children.
“There are a lot of studies that show if a kid is not on track for algebra 1 in eighth grade — and a lot of the decisions were made in the fifth or sixth grade — the odds of them getting a STEM degree are pretty low,” Kathuria said. “That means you have to start earlier.”
For more information or to register, visit the event site.