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Attendees at an upcoming STEM Career Expo will have the chance to get hands-on experience with drones, robotics, computer coding and other technologies.
Companies and organizations that exhibit at the May 14 event at Ross Park Mall are required to provide interactive presentations as a way to expose attendees to opportunities in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
Exhibitors “can’t sit in a suit and hand out brochures,” says Eileen Stewart, a partner at Purposeful Impact Pittsburgh, which organized the expo.
The event — which is free — is targeted to students ranging from middle school through college (as well as adults who may be seeking a career change).
Among those scheduled to exhibit are drone developer Aeras; Holovisn, which designs 3D hologram visuals; and the STEM Coding Lab. Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania will offer a hands-on robotics demo.
The event runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the mall’s exhibit area located below the food court.
The organizers hope that by holding the expo on a Saturday, more students and working people can attend and parents will be able to accompany younger students.
“Parents can hear about jobs,” says Stewart. “And many of these jobs don’t require a college degree.”
Some exhibitors, including energy giant EQT, offer internships and other programs designed for high school students, Stewart notes.
Duquesne Light, another exhibitor, offers a paid, lineworker prep program in partnership with Community College of Allegheny County for rising high school seniors and recent graduates. The program helps bolster proficiency in math and other subjects required for lineworkers and other skilled positions.
Demand for STEM-trained workers continues to rise.
A report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that STEM jobs will increase by 10.5 percent by 2040, more than twice the growth rate of all other occupations. Demand for computer-related jobs is driving the growth, according to the report.
When announcing funding of nearly $11 million to expand STEM education in Pennsylvania last year, Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration said workers in 7 out of 10 new jobs in the state in the next decade will require skills in computers and new technologies.
During the pandemic, when the nation’s unemployment rate soared, employees in STEM fields – including those with and without bachelor’s degrees – fared better than workers in other sectors, according to a report from the National Science Board.
Stewart, the former corporate and community engagement manager at Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania, launched Purposeful Impact Pittsburgh in January with Lisa Edmonds. Principal of Elevate U R Marketing, Edmonds previously worked as a senior local sales manager at KDKA-TV.
The firm designs community events and consults with companies and nonprofits to improve corporate social responsibility practices including community engagement. They are planning an event for veterans in the fall.
Other sponsors and exhibitors at the STEM Career Expo include Allegheny County, Verizon, Civil & Environmental Consultants, MSA, Massaro Construction Group, Christian Home Healthcare, Tender Care Learning Centers, City of Pittsburgh, Port Authority, Kuhn’s and Girls of Steel.
Learn more about the STEM Career Expo here.