STEM Summit highlights exciting time in history

You don’t have to be a nerd or a geek to take an interest in science, technology, engineering or math.

That was the message from Princeton High School Technology Education teacher Richard Kielty as he kicked off the second annual STEM Summit last Friday at Princeton High School.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering or math — areas that are becoming some of the most desired by potential employers when college graduates enter the business world.

About 300 PHS students attended the summit and had an opportunity to hear business leaders discuss how they use STEM in their operations.

They also had an opportunity to break into small groups in the high school gym and visit about 30 stations where businesses provided hands-on demonstrations illustrating the importance of the STEM fields in their companies.

Superintendent Rick Lahn told the students that they were living during a time in history that is one of the most exciting since the beginning of time.

“Technology is doubling every 18 months,” Lahn noted.

In 2025 scientists predict that a handheld computer will be more powerful than the human brain. Not long after, computers will be more powerful than all the brains in the human race, he said.

As this technology develops, so will America’s workforce.

Joan Danielson from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development said 18 of the 20 fastest-growing fields are tied to STEM disciplines and 80 percent of the current jobs in the state require an education beyond high school.

Guy Miller of Princeton-based BioMatrix International backed up Danielson’s facts with examples from within his own business.

BioMatrix makes natural feed additives for animals.

Miller himself holds a PhD in microbiology. His company employs accountants, administrative managers, animal nutritionists and microbiologists — all STEM fields.

“Even my sales staff needs to know their science if they are to sell my products,” he said.

Summer interns employed by BioMatrix must have strong math, biology and science skills, Miller said.

Mason Hansen, an engineering instructor at Itasca Community College, had a message that students related to when he talked about the earning potential of students who study with the STEM disciplines.

“It’s foolish not to consider wages. But it’s foolish to only consider that, too,” Hansen said.

A student planning out a future needs to consider three things: They should enter a field in which they will enjoy the work, they should seek a job that will provide job security for them and their family, and they should consider wage potential.

All three of those criteria can be met with jobs in the STEM fields, he said.