Update from Orlando
Sustainability was the topic of the hour at the opening of the League for Innovation in the Community College’s inaugural STEMtech conference being held this week at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Florida. Ed Begley, Jr., star of Planet Green’s, “Living With Ed” and author of Ed Begley, Jr.’s Guide to Sustainable Living, kicked off the gathering on Sunday afternoon with an entertaining and thoughtful telling of his own story and the important role of STEM in living green. And, according to Joe O’Donnell, Senior Convention Service Manager at the Swan and Dolphin, STEMtech participants broke a record on Sunday for the number of rooms participating in the hotel’s Green Program, wherein guests opt out of housekeeping services in exchange for restaurant vouchers or loyalty program points, and the number of guests participating in the program rose even higher after Begley’s presentation.
Sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the opening session reflected themes in new foundation initiatives also featured at the new conference. Foundation representative Mark David Milliron, Deputy Director for Postsecondary Improvement, invited conference participants to join him and his colleagues for breakfast early Monday morning, followed by a series of conversations and presentations focused on the foundation’s Learn and Earn initiative. A separate town-hall meeting was also held on Monday to answer questions about the Next Generation Learning Challenges (http://nextgenlearning.org) project.
Sustainability was only one of many STEM-related topics on tap at STEMtech, with tracks including Health and Science; Energy, Environment, and Sustainability; Mathematics, Engineering, and Architecture; Manufacturing, Industry, and Agriculture; Technology, Multimedia, and Telecommunication; Technology Systems and Applications; and E-Learning Resources. In addition to the on-site conference, a web-based version, STEMtech Online, provided a virtual option for participants who could not travel to the conference site.
Despite recession-driven cuts to travel budgets at community colleges across the country, more than 1,450 community college educators were joined by their K-12 counterparts and an exhibit hall filled with corporate partners and friends to share the latest research and proven practices in STEM education and IT infrastructure.
STEMtech closes Wednesday with a keynote presentation by Michael Lach, Special Assistant, United States Department of Education. Plans are fully under way for the 2011 STEMtech conference, to be held October 2-5 at the J. W. Marriott in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Edward J. Leach
Vice President, Services and Programs
(480) 705-8200, ext. 233