Case Study

GTRI, Metro Atlanta School Collaborate on STEM Event

Published: February 14, 2013

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If you want to help K-12 students understand career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), nothing beats giving them direct contact with experts in STEM-related fields.

Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) did just that on Feb. 6, 2013, at the Health Sciences and Technology STEM event at North Springs Charter High School in Sandy Springs, Ga. GTRI partnered with Georgia Tech students and the Sandy Springs Education Force to introduce students to health sciences and technology career opportunities.

The two-part event featured interactive health sciences and technology exhibits designed to inspire and educate many of the Sandy Springs-area middle- and high school students. Nearly 700 students participated in the afternoon session and more than 300 attended the evening event for the community.

“Medical technology degrees provide the fastest growing career opportunities available,” said Dr. Shean Phelps, M.D., GTRI Health Systems Technical Director. “This event integrated Georgia Tech’s core capabilities and expertise with the Sandy Springs Education Force (SSEF) STEM outreach goals to the benefit of the students of North Springs Charter High School. The aim was to grant students access to local health science and technology resources that may provide a clearer pathway for them to become ‘career ready’ in these fields upon graduation.”

GTRI’s STEM program, STEM@GTRI, is led by Leigh McCook, a principal research associate for GTRI’s Information and Communications Lab (ICL). As the STEM coordinator, McCook encourages institute-level education projects, build relationships between GTRI and the Georgia Tech campus, and identifies opportunities for collaboration among GTRI’s STEM activities.

“My challenge is to identify projects and passions across GTRI that contribute to STEM education,” said McCook. “This event provided us the opportunity to share GTRI's expertise in a way that makes a big impact on high school and middle school students – we had an opportunity to share our research in a way that makes a difference.”

Dr. Tommy Thomas, M.D., Ph.D, neurointensivist at Grady Memorial Hospital and an assistant professor of neurology at Emory University in the Division of Neurocritical Care, delivered a keynote address focusing on the challenges and multiple pathways to success in the health sciences and technology field. Thomas grew up in rural Alabama and went on to become a medical doctor and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduate. He used his life experiences to encourage students to work toward their goals.

“This year’s event kicked off a month-long focus by SSEF on inspiring students to pursue the many fascinating opportunities in the fields of health care and technology,” said SSEF Executive Director Irene Schweiger. “These fields are where 10 of the top 20 fastest growing careers will be found, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

Researchers showcased several of GTRI’s health sciences technologies, including MotionTalk – a tool to help the rehabilitation of traumatic brain injury patients; CardioBuzz – a heart monitoring system; and Arthritis Simulation Gloves – gloves that provide the wearer with a better understanding of how arthritis affects individuals.

Additionally, Georgia Tech students were on hand to present research projects and to share their experiences with the Sandy Springs students. Representatives from Kimberly Clark, Northside Hospital, Society of Women Engineers, PricewaterhouseCooper, AT&T, Delta Community Credit Union and Coca-Cola Refreshments shared information and displays. WXIA-TV’s Education Reporter Donna Lowry moderated a panel featuring Georgia Tech students, and Dr. Marlene MacLeish of Morehouse School of Medicine was honored for her work in the Sandy Springs public schools.

To learn more about SSEF, visit the organization's Website.