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Img 0344 July 30, 2019  |  Written by

Inspiring Students to Shoot for the Stars

Pictured above: Over 140 summer STEM/STEAM students with a GPA of 3.3+ attended the first Emerging Technology and Energy Fair held at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

It’s been said that it is always sunny in Philadelphia. On this particular Friday in late July, one could not ask for a sunnier perfect day as Rajant, ChariOT Labs, Dejero, Ameresco, Grace3 Technologies, and Microsoft joined forces to host an Emerging Technology and Energy Fair for local STEM/STEAM students.

Earlier that morning, over 140 students aged 11- to 16-years-old with GPAs of 3.3+ from 18 area schools—including Esperanza Charter School, New Options More Opportunities (NOMO), Energy Coordinating Agency (PEA), and Girard College—boarded buses and vans to attend the event, held at the Center for Building Energy and League Island Park at The Navy Yard. All were eager to attend the first-time event and learn more about the latest and greatest in the ever-evolving world of energy innovations.

Inside, the students received a warm welcome and listened to various talks on emerging technologies, who sat squarely in their seats, listening intently to each speaker. One such talk was a “Tech Talk” from Bruce D. Arvizu, an expert on drone technology with the Department of Homeland Security’s Emerging Technology Group, who introduced the students to 21st century careers relying on up-and-coming technologies, including artificial intelligence, energy systems, transit systems, sUAS/drones, public safety, first responders, utilities, and other SMART systems and devices.

I also had the opportunity to speak during the “Careers in STEM” session and shared a quick overview of my own career path in technology, as a marketing professional, followed by giving tips on how to land a possible dream job after finishing school.

In summary, I urged the students to one, follow their dreams. It is true that ‘anything in life’ is possible, so believe in yourself and go for it. Two, study hard, find a mentor or mentors, and explore different interests to help discover your passions. Three, it’s okay to change your mind along the way. Life has a lot of different opportunities and with new opportunities come new aspirations. Four, remain open-minded about schools in and outside the area if furthering your education. There are also many financial assistance programs to help make educational dreams a reality. Five, while in college, complete at least three or more internship opportunities to help differentiate yourself and to gain real-life hands-on experience.

When I finally asked the students, “What do you want to do when you finish school?”, dozens of hands shot instantly up into the air, eager to be called upon and share their career aspiration.

Outside, the students were treated to a tour of Ameresco’s microgrid facility, one of the largest private microgrids in the US, and live technology demonstrations, including the Microsoft mobile tactical van and an appearance by Rajant’s droid, Pumbaa, who interacted with the fascinated students.

Throughout the day, it was very apparent the students’ minds are open and their brains hungry. All were very curious and inquisitive as they learned about the energy technologies.

This fair is the brainchild of John Henry of ChariOT Labs who had this to say about the event:

“The intent behind this event was to create an experiential learning environment in which underserved communities and students immerse themselves in the best technologies and energy services in the world in the hopes of supplying them with 21st-century skills and inspiring them to pursue STEM-related careers. We are fortunate that our partners Dejero, Ameresco, Rajant, and Microsoft share our social impact, triple-bottom line business model to encourage students to lead in advanced technologies. This team was amazing and the energy of the group was positive and organic. I am very grateful for all of the support and commitment to disenfranchised communities and thank everyone for making our event a massive success and impactful for all of the students.”

Click here to read more about the event from KYW Newsradio. 🖉

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