When I Grow Up: The Future of STEM

The jobs of the future don’t even exist yet, and today’s students in STEM programs will be among those determining what opportunities the fields of science, tech, engineering and math will create for tomorrow.

HDR’s Andy Yosten, director of mechanical engineering and co-chair of the STEM Academy advisory board for Omaha North High School in Omaha, Nebraska, recently invited 65 academy students to HDR for a roundtable discussion centered on STEM careers.

The experience gave students a real-life look at STEM fields through the eyes of the Lake Cunningham improvements and development project team. Our project leads were joined by representatives from Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, City of Omaha, Army Corps of Engineers and industry partners to share their professional paths, explain their daily duties and offer career advice.

Bringing the organizations that worked on the project together helped students better appreciate the various interactions involved. It also helped convey the importance of strong communications needed to create something that will improve the community for generations.

After the roundtable, students were encouraged to visit with panel members over lunch to ask additional questions.

“The value of events like this is providing the students an opportunity to step outside the classroom,” said Jan Christensen, STEM academy advisory board member and former math teacher at Omaha North High School. “It’s showing them what they can really do with those science, math and technology classes they’re taking.”

Ongoing goals of the STEM academy include experiential learning, problem solving, communication skills and career exploration.

“I hope the kids took away from today the understanding that these opportunities are only going to grow for them,” Yosten said. “If they see something that they’re passionate about, grab onto it, put all their energy and effort into it, they’re going to be quite successful.”