Courtesy of UCR Today

At their third-annual summit, the California STEM Learning network honored two female UCR professors and 10 other women with the “Leading Women in STEM” statewide award.

Held on Oct. 15 and 16, the two-day conference on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) took place in San Diego, with the attendance of over 350 researchers, educators, policymakers and entrepreneurs. The summit focused on creating new partnerships that would bring more innovative ways in terms of how STEM education is taught, learned and applied.

“The synergy of participants and their total commitment to STEM was amazing,” said Dr. Pamela Clute, UC Riverside’s assistant vice chancellor of educational and community engagement, executive director of the ALPHA Center and lecturer in math. In an interview with the Highlander, she said the summit gave useful insight on the innovative ways in which teachers could educate students.

Dr. Clute was one of the speakers at the summit as well as a recipient of the “Leading Women in STEM” award. The award is presented to those who have shown leadership in advancing critical areas of STEM education, including adoption of NEXT Generation Science Standards and advocating for strengthened public-private partnerships and alignment of resources.

“That validation of our work makes us want to do more… Teachers do change futures and they do change lives because they provide the inspiration that young people need,” Dr. Clute said.

Susan Hackwood, the executive director of the California Council on Science and Technology and professor at UC Riverside also received the award. Dr. Hackwood is the founding dean of UCR’s Bourns College of Engineering and she has overseen the development of all research and teaching aspects of five degree programs.

California is currently ranked 43rd in the nation in undergraduate math and science proficiency. According to the Department of Labor, the fastest growing and best paying occupations are in medicine, engineering, computer science, energy/environment and data communication. Out of these jobs, 63 percent require STEM knowledge and 92 percent require post secondary education.

“Right now, STEM education is absolutely necessary for a vibrant economy and we need to educate the next generation in these fields,” said Dr. Clute.
Her presentation at the summit, “Why STEM, Why Partnership,” was centered on the grounds of building a partnership between education, businesses, government, media, and faith-based groups to work towards improving STEM education. “This is about community and working towards the same goal,” she said.

Chris Roe, the CEO of California STEM Learning Network, said in a recent Press-Enterprise article that adjustments coming to the state’s educational curriculum will bring changes in the way STEM education has been taught by both new and veteran teachers.
Other speakers at the summit included State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, ambassador for California’s STEM school program and basketball champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and scientists from NASA, Google and Pixar.