Justin Calderara, an undergraduate in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, figured prominently in a video about Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III, chairman of Gov. Deval L. Patrick’s STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) Advisory Council, when the congressman toured the recently completed University of Massachusetts Amherst Life Science Laboratory and Integrated Sciences Building. Calderara took part in lively student discussions with Congressman Kennedy concerning the university’s STEM Diversity Institute and its Integrated Concentration in Science (ICONS) program. After trading observations with Calderara and a tableful of other UMass undergrads, Congressman Kennedy called the group “tremendously impressive.” View the video at http://www.umass.edu/newsoffice/article/congressman-joseph-p-kennedy-iii-tours.
After Kennedy asked the students for their opinions about STEM education, Calderara replied that science education in high school needs to include “more team-building, problem-solving skills because, while I’m absolutely thrilled that I have this opportunity now, had I been given it at a younger age, I’d be better prepared for my career as an engineer.”
Kennedy responded to Calderara’s comment by saying, “I agree with you 100 percent,” and then went on to explain how we can better engage high school students in this process.
At another point in his tour of the UMass facilities, Kennedy said that government has the responsibility “to prime the pump” of research funding if we want to stay competitive with the rest of the world and inspire the next generation of graduates.
The STEM Diversity Institute promotes the diversification of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, while ICONS is an interdisciplinary science program that brings together undergraduate students majoring in science and engineering to solve real world problems. (March 2014)