Oklahoma Youth Experiences STEM Occupations

Oklahoma Youth Experiences STEM Occupations

Lindsay Lynch
Oklahoma Youth Experiences STEM Occupations

Youth in southern Oklahoma are developing an appreciation and understanding of the necessary skills, aptitudes and attitudes that are essential to be successful in today’s STEM occupations during STEM Challenge Academy this summer. 

OSU Institute of Technology has partnered with the Southern Workforce Board this to provide the STEM Challenge Academy program for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Youth, for the fourth year. The criteria of the program is set by SWB and facilitated by OSUIT.

The eight, two-day workshop sessions began July 1 and will conclude Aug. 6 at six locations in southern Oklahoma: Poteau, Durant, Ardmore, Ada, McAlester & Idabel, across the Southern Workforce Board’s service area. Each session averages 16 students with 100 participants total. The students range from ages 16-24 and are chosen based on meeting the WIOA eligibility requirements.  

“The STEM Academies are a great way to expose the youth in the southern Oklahoma area to career opportunities in technical fields,” said Na’Komas Blackford, Workforce Training Coordinator at OSUIT.

Instructed by Charles Young, a former OSUIT faculty member in the Engineering Graphics & Design Drafting program and OSUIT graduate, the Academy curriculum includes education on STEM disciplines and STEM career paths.

The students use technology as a problem-solving tool and are provided with real world applications in many industry sectors. Apple iPad’s are provided by OSUIT to the Academy participants to simulate various concepts from many engineering fields, such as mechanical, civil, industrial, robotic and chemical.

Each participant will also receive information on educational attainment and career choices that exist in each sector and how they apply technology to solve problems.

“In addition to exposing these youth to STEM-related careers, we are also able to promote opportunities available to them at OSUIT as a way to further their educational goals,” said Blackford.

This annual event has shown a direct correlation to enrollment from students that were served in the STEM Academies.

“Our participation in the STEM Academies helps reach out to communities that may not have known about the programs available at OSUIT,” said Blackford.