Innovation today depends on technological competence, but requires something more. Leading businesses are discovering the value of teaming engineers, line staff, marketing, and design on particularly vexing problems.
Higher education across the U.S. and around the world is pressured to produce a workforce competent not only in science, technology, engineering, and math, but also able to enhance innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship with multidisciplinary learning, projects, and environments.
In June, an international group of colleges, training institutions, and employers met in June to discuss their approaches to the potential multidisciplinary learning and activities for enriching technical and vocational education and examples of exemplary practice. The Trans-Atlantic Technology and Training Alliance (TA3) held its 25th international community college symposium, STEM, STEAM, and Dream: Educating an Imaginative and Skilled Workforce at Ivy Tech Community College, in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Because of the intimate nature of TA3, 42 member colleges from around the world directly influenced the theme of the 2014 symposium, as well as the subject of the presentations. “If not for TA3, I would not have been able to learn the things I’ve learned or meet the people that have shaped me and my career,” said President of York Technical College, Greg Rutherford of the importance of the TA3 network to his professional success.
Fatma Mili, Head of Department of Computer & Information at Purdue University, set the stage by discussing the new Purdue Polytech she helped found to develop and demonstrate a new transdisciplinary mode of learning. Learners are immersed in various group environments with others from diverse fields. Fatma Mili’s presentation is available.
Martha Eldredge Stark, Executive Director of NSERVE in Chicago, described in detail the value of interdisciplinary learning and design thinking to STEM skills and creativity to Chicago’s schools.
Jill Cush from SouthWest College in Northern Ireland provided the European Commission’s policy perspective on ways to use STEM to drive innovation and how that is playing out in Northern Ireland. Kay Bokowy from General Electric Heath Care in Milwaukee described how art and design students from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design worked with GE engineers and technicians to help address health care issues in developing countries. John Winzeler, CEO of Winzeler Gear in Chicago led a spirited discussion of experiences and issues related to multidisciplinary learning that included Eric Brownlie from Glasgow Clyde College in Scotland, Craig Clark from Alfred State College in New York, and Angie Tayor from Gateway Community & Technical College in Kentucky.
Practitioners led afternoon panels on maker spaces and improving STEM skills among populations that are under-enrolled in conventional technical occupations. The Makerspace panel, led by moderator Doug Webster from Vermont, who has led the development of Makerspaces across the state, and included Dean Sommerfeld from Fox Valley Technical College in Wisconsin, Torkel Milling of Copenhagen Technical College in Denmark, and Greg Rutherford, York Technical College in South Carolina.
The discussions of getting STEM to underserved population was led by Darlene Miller of the National Coalition for Workforce Education and included Jess Niebuhr from Minneapolis Community & Technical College, Margaret Semmer from Ivy Tech, and Carissa Schutzman from Gateway Community & Technical College.
Members attending a business meeting the day after the symposium, in which they discussed the potential to collaborate on project work and planning of a 2015 event in Europe. Attendees also enjoyed several networking receptions, as well as a dinner at the Indiana State Museum and tours of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Lucas Oil Stadium.
Download a copy of the full symposium agenda..