The eighth annual convening of Midwest STEM leaders occurred on August 21 in Des Moines. The series, launched in 2013 at the request of executives at Pioneer (now Corteva), Rockwell Collins (now Collins Aerospace), and John Deere embraces their reality that STEM talent pipelines for many employers do not stop at state borders. The goal is therefore to spread best practices region-wide.
The date was chosen in order to present an opportunity for other states and regions to take part in the 10th Anniversary Reception for Iowa’s STEM Council and to witness STEM at the Iowa State Fair on August 22.
A scaled-back attendee roster compared to years past given individual health and safety comfort levels, eleven states and regions were represented nonetheless, including Minnesota, North Dakota, Michigan, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Colorado (honorary Midwesterner), of course Iowa and corporate partner John Deere. All expenses were covered by event sponsor ITC.
An innovative solution to a challenge faced by all was presented by each organization for ready replication as needed by others. A penetrant evaluation model in Missouri, a means for connecting diverse stakeholders in Chicago, an online resource for collective impact in Omaha, systemic change strategic planning in St. Louis, closing racial and gender gaps in Kansas City, asset mapping in North Dakota, computer science elevation in Michigan, podcasts in Utah (virtual attendee), John Deere’s support of the UN Sustainability Goals and Iowa’s STEM at State Fair were some of the innovations shared.
The collaborative spirit of these interstate gatherings for opening up playbooks for the benefit of youth and families across middle America exemplifies what STEM is all about: erasing boundaries for boundless futures.