Squeezing an A into STEM

Phil Rugile: STEAM engine.

Education and workforce development come together Nov. 17 to explore the future world in which science and creativity happily co-exist.

Popularly called STEAM, the movement aims to build well-rounded workers of tomorrow who embrace the hard skills of science, technology, engineering and math but haven’t lost sight of the undisputed value of the arts.

“I believe this is the first Long Island conference that brings educators, technology companies and businesspeople together to discuss the significance of adding art to the mix,” said Phil Rugile, operations director at LaunchPad Huntington and point man for the event.

The conference is designed to showcase emerging technologies and services being developed within Long Island’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and to engage industry and school leaders in discussions on improving science, technology, engineering, arts and math education – with the arts, Rugile noted, taking center stage.

“It’s that creative component that’s been missing from most STEM curriculums,” he said. “I think Steve Jobs was the first one who proposed the concept of putting art into STEM to create better innovators.”

The conference’s ultimate focus is on new college graduates as well as previous grads re-inventing themselves through continuing education.

“If we’re able to actually start engaging these different ideas and start changing some of these curriculums, then kids coming out of college who want to do more will have the skills they need, and so will those making a professional pivot,” Rugile said.

“We’re trying to impact the curriculums of continuing-education departments. They need to understand the skillsets that are going to help someone in the middle of a career change get a job.”

LaunchPad is joined by Hofstra University, Stony Brook University and St. Joseph’s College, with support from Huntington-based tech-ed company Teq, the young-thinking Suburban Millennial Institute and the New York Institute of Technology.

(Full disclosure: Innovate LI is also a sponsor.)

The conference includes vendor exhibits, a networking hour with live music and regional food selections and a panel discussion moderated by Ken White, educational programs manager at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

The event kicks off with vendor exhibits at 3:30 p.m., with a keynote at 5 p.m., followed by the networking and panel presentation.