Developing STEM workforce to support L.A. businesses
Conversations can spark transformation. At least, that’s the case with conversations that matter. In partnership with University of Phoenix, GOOD, Inc. — a media company that provides community-minded information that serves the public — sponsored a panel discussion on July 28, 2011. Panelists included prominent members of the Los Angeles business community, local government and education to examine strategies to increase the STEM (science, technology, education and math) workforce in the Los Angeles area. This move is intended to help bring greater economic stability to the city.
Peter Diamandis, Founder of X PRIZE Foundation
Eric Garcetti, President of the Los Angeles City Council
Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing
Bernadette Lucas, Principal of Melrose Elementary School Mathematics Science Technology Magnet
Moderator Ben Goldhirsh, CEO of GOOD, guided the conversation on how education, government and business can combine efforts to develop workers who can drive businesses that depend on technology.
We caught up with Dr. Smith and asked him to share his impressions of the discussion and whether the conversation could help ignite greater workforce education in STEM occupations.
What was your overall impression of this event?
“It was an important conversation that represented a balance between government, education and business. The event was well-attended and the audience was engaged in the discussion and asked questions following the presentation. I think we covered important topics that could spur action.”
What are some of the salient points that came out of the discussion?
“I found it very interesting that Eric Garcetti’s goal was to make Los Angeles the innovation leader, rather than just focusing on the entertainment industry. He and Ben Goldhirsh would like to have Innovation Hubs that would house tech businesses around the city to attract technology businesses to the local area.
"Because gaming is such a big industry, Eric Hirshberg talked about what’s required to work in gaming — logic and a strong background in math and physics are all needed to develop games. He believes, as I do, that mentorship and the student’s own passion are an important element in developing workers in the gaming industry. When you get support, it’s easier to keep focused on completing education for future game developers.”
And, what did education have to say?
“I had an opportunity to speak with Bernadette Lucas before the panel and discovered she’s a faculty member of the University of Phoenix College of Education. Bernadette believes that continuing development is important for faculty in STEM disciplines, and I agree.
“It’s interesting that the University of Phoenix practitioner-faculty model fulfills the development, because our faculty work in the fields they teach, which keeps them up to date with what’s happening in the industry.
“I spoke to the audience about how University of Phoenix uses advanced technology in teaching to help support the learning of students. Our mobile application allows students to access their coursework, teachers and peers from anywhere, and our platforms allow for flexibility. Being exposed to new technology can also spark innovation as students see what is possible now, and what more could be possible in the future."
Anything else you want to share?
“Conversations like these are very important because they help to bring business, education and government together to improve STEM education and, ultimately, the community itself. I think that we need to continue these types of panels and identify action plans to help us create more competitive and prosperous communities."