By GREGORY ZELLER //
Albany’s biggest economic engine is hitting the gas on a clever, multifaceted Long Island workforce-development initiative, offering a reality-TV look at the Island’s thriving 21st century industries.
The Empire State Development Corp. is joining the Long Island STEM Hub – a consortium of regional educators, executives and other stakeholders boosting regional science, technology, engineering and mathematics industries – to launch “Full STEM Ahead Long Island,” a new video series pushing STEM careers on the Island.
The series, which is paired with a K-12 curriculum designed specifically to interest students in future STEM jobs, is funded by a $320,000 ESD grant, issued through the Regional Economic Development Council process.
And it’s a win for both the state and the region, according to ESD Acting Commissioner, President and CEO-designate Eric Gertler, with Long Island’s major-league scientific research facilities perfectly complementing statewide workforce-development goals.
“On Long Island and across the Empire State, our innovation economy is surging, and we want to ensure New Yorkers are prepared to thrive in the jobs of today and tomorrow,” Gertler said, adding the partnership with the circa-2011 STEM Hub “has brought together government, private industry, nonprofits and educators to provide opportunities for students to learn about STEM careers.”
Filling an entire video series on Long Island STEM careers – 10 parts in all – isn’t difficult, notes Brookhaven National Laboratory Manager of Education Programs Ken White, who rates science, technology, engineering and mathematics pursuits as “growth industries here on Long Island.”
“Every day, innovative Long Islanders are solving challenges, accelerating growth industries, advancing world-class research and helping making the Island a better place to live,” White, a STEM Hub co-steward, said in a statement. “This video series is for local students, parents and educators – offering inspiration and paths to pursue rewarding careers.”
The 10 videos, to be released individually over the coming months, will highlight healthcare, bioengineering, advanced manufacturing and other critical 21st century industries, each through a decidedly Long Island lens.
The first episode, “Crushin’ It With Composites,” visits with Hauppauge’s GSE Dynamics – including a chat with President Anne Shybunko-Moore, a stop in the Machine Shop and well-edited discussions about the technologies and techniques of cutting-edge aerospace manufacturing – and with Nature Shapes, a Sayville surfboard manufacturer forming boards from next-level carbon fibers.
It’s posted with a complete curriculum that includes vocabulary words, science experiments and other lesson resources meant to give students hands-on exposure to concepts explored in the video.
Future videos, and their accompanying curricula, will continue to encourage learners, teachers and parents to discuss the skills and talents needed to pursue STEM careers, while highlighting Long Island’s burgeoning innovation corridor – target of more than $250 million in state investments over the last decade, with Albany providing copious support to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s Center for Therapeutics Research, BNL’s new electron microscope building, Stony Brook University’s Institute for Discovery and Innovation and a plethora of research spin-offs and startups.
Noting that “innovation is in Long Island’s DNA,” Long Island Association President Kevin Law – co-chairman of the LIREDC, alongside Hofstra University President Stuart Rabinowitz – said the video series was less a highlight reel of those achievements than a recruitment film for the next generation of Island innovators.
“The REDC has been proud to invest in our region’s unmatched biotech corridor,” Law said. “But while we are creating jobs, we also must make sure we are preparing young Long Islanders to fill those jobs.
“This partnership will do just that – ensuring that, as our economy develops, our highly skilled workforce also continues to grow.”