In the ever more complex and evolving world, making sure the workers and leaders of tomorrow are equipped to be successful in the 21st Century should be the goal of any community. A person’s knowledge of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) subjects can ultimately decide that person’s level of success in an advanced economy. Committed to its goal of producing completive students, Lorain County Community College and Entrepreneurial Engagement Ohio hosted a forum concerning STEM Commercialization, Entrepreneurship and Innovation on Feb. 6 in the Spitzer Conference Center.
The forum hosted teachers and students from different high schools and middle schools that were invited to learn the opportunities of a STEM education by three unique speakers. One of the speakers was Rick Pollack, a serial entrepreneur, who spent his speech talking about his personal story involving the beginning of his business MakerGear, a designer and manufacturer of affordable, desktop 3D printers, and how the origins of his company was thanks to LCCC’s FabLab. After making improvements and parts to already existing printers call MakerBots, Pollack decided to start designing and making his own 3D printers. “He started his business in our FabLab, and so he would hire our part-time lab assistants to work for him on their off time and they would produce the parts for him,” said Kelly Zelesnik, Dean of Engineering, Business, and Information Technologies.
Another speaker at the forum was Dr. Reagan Silverstri, an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at LCCC, and he spoke about his time as a volunteer in the United States Peace Corps and his service assignment in the Republic of Kazakhstan where he looked implemented waste-to-energy practices based on practices from Lorain County. One unique thing Silvestri and Pollack show is that even if you have a college degree or other form of training or education, you are not bound only to jobs associated with that degree. “Hearing all the different speakers and no matter where they started they ended up doing ssomething else. You look at Reagan’s degree in chemistry and then his time in the Peace Corp and doing something that wasn’t directly related to his degree, you look at Rick Pollack, he has a degree in computer science and here he is building 3D printers,” Zelesnik commented.
After listening and interacting with speakers after their speeches, students, who were assisted by college student mentors, were tasked to work together in teams to develop a new product, service or problem solving innovation and gave pitches of their creation much like the contestants on the show “Shark Tank”. Zelesnik was very impressed with what the students were able to come up with in the very short amount of time they were given.
“They only had about 25 minutes doing that and they didn’t have a lot of time to create their pitches and they did a great job”, said Zelesnik.