Why this national STEM conference matters for Baltimore - Technical.ly Baltimore


May 19, 2016 12:24 pm

Why this national STEM conference matters for Baltimore

Growing on local momentum, U.S. News & World Report's STEM Solutions Conference is in town this week.

JHU President Ronald Daniels fields questions from the Baltimore Sun's Andrew Green.

(Photo by Twitter user @jasonkravitz)

An index that tracks students entering the STEM fields was released this week, highlighting the fact that a lot of technical jobs are being filled by foreign workers.

The U.S. News & World Report STEM Index is the latest in a series of studies on the issue, which in part underscores the fact that a big reason for the unfilled jobs is a lack of diversity. But it’s resonating particularly loudly in Baltimore this week, as the national media outlet is holding its STEM Solutions conference at the Hilton Baltimore. It follows last week’s big impact investing confab, the Mission Investors Exchange.

Previous editions of the conference were held in Dallas and San Diego, but U.S. News & World Report wanted to bring it to the East Coast, said Chief Content Officer Brian Kelly. He said Baltimore stood out as the site aimed to “move it to a place where the issue was a lot closer to home.”

Many of the Baltimore area’s educational institutions and big employers are confronting the shortage in workers from the U.S. At the same time, the area has organizations looking to provide solutions.

To host a national conference, Kelly said, “It’s important that you have a base of supporters who are understanding of this.”

In turn, the move is giving Baltimore a national platform in the STEM conversation. As the conference opened on Wednesday, a series of panels featured local leaders. Code in the School’s Gretchen LeGrand and Maryland Science Olympiad’s Kate McGuire were among panelists discussing STEM in K-12.

Local tech company CEOs like CyberPoint’s Karl Gumtow and Vasoptic Medical’s M. Jason Brooke talked about what companies want.

Baltimore is also represented throughout the conference, with university presidents like Johns Hopkins’ Ronald Daniels and UMBC’s Freeman Hrabowski.

On Thursday, a working group that looks to connect educational institutions, companies and nonprofits called BmoreSTEM was named part of a national cohort called the STEM Learning Ecosystem Initiative. The national group provides technical assistance and capacity building that will help BMoreSTEM more fully launch.

Even Baltimore’s national conferences can connect. Kelly said he attended a separate conference in the city last November that highlights one positive trend toward more Hispanic people entering the STEM fields. At the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, he saw community groups and employers that were enthusiastic.

“We see those results, so that’s a positive,” he said.

Stephen Babcock

Stephen Babcock is Market Editor for Technical.ly Baltimore and Technical.ly DC. A graduate of Northeastern University, he moved to Baltimore following stints in New Orleans and Rio Arriba County, New Mexico. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Baltimore Fishbowl, NOLA Defender, NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune and the Rio Grande Sun.


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