On Friday, November 9th, Youngstown State hosted the STEM Entrepreneurship and Innovation Forum in partnership with North East Ohio Innovates and Entrepreneurial Engagement Ohio. At this event, the College of STEM and the Williamson Business College seamlessly combined their core elements to teach high school students about the intersection between STEM subjects and entrepreneurship, and to help them succeed in their field of interest.
This year, 111 students from seven local high schools attended the forum, and 27 student and faculty mentors from YSU aided the students on their path to innovation.
The forum kicked off with introductions between students and YSU faculty, and a short motivational video was shown which emphasized the students’ ability to change the future. YSU President Jim Tressel spoke to the students, encouraging them to stick by the friends in their life who are honest and inspire them. Great friends, said Tressel, are important for academic success in any setting.
After the students were acquainted, three speakers from different paths of life spoke to the students about their experiences in STEM and/or entrepreneurship. The first was Marisa Sergi, founder and CEO of RedHead Brands. After telling her story, she offered the students an important piece of advice: “The answer is always ‘no’ if you don’t ask”. R. K. Khosla, Chief Business Officer of Black Beret Life Sciences, spoke to the students next. He shared two situations of STEM business projects he and his children worked on while they were in high school. One was a success story, and one was not-so-successful, but R. K. noted the importance of both of these projects and their learning opportunities. The final speaker was Dr. Martin Abraham, a professor of Chemical Engineering and Founding Dean of STEM. Dr. Abraham spoke about the many accomplishments in STEM fields in the past and the potential for STEM innovations in the future.
The high school students in attendance to this event seemed to find many new insights from the speakers and YSU staff. “I’m glad that people are working to make the world a better place,” said Hannah from MCCTC. Another MCCTC student, Kayla, expressed that she found it difficult to “find a place to start” in entrepreneurship, and that this event gave her hope that she could make a difference in STEM. Two students from TCTC planned to take action with their own innovative STEM plans after the event. Ethan, a student with a technology-based project in mind, said, “There is a major correlation between computer science and business”.
After lunch, the students began to brainstorm in their groups about important problems and potential innovations to solve them. To assist them in their problem-solving process, the YSU mentors for each group walked the students through the Believe in Ohio Roadmap. The groups then presented their ideas one by one, and their ideas came alive on the stage of the Chestnut Room.
For more information on the event, or to learn how get involved with your own innovative ideas as a student, visit the Entrepreneurial Engagement Ohio site here.