Class of 2017 Discusses STEM Challenges with National Leaders

The Learning Lab II experience is designed to allow sophomore Park Scholars to develop a critical understanding of a national issue – selected by the class during their freshman year – by interacting with leaders immersed in that issue. In October the Class of 2017 traveled to Washington, D.C. to examine how leaders in the public and private sectors tackle complex challenges surrounding the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from both domestic and international perspectives.

The class found that, as the demand for labor and advancement in these fields continues to grow, the need for effective and dynamic leadership in the areas of policy, education, communication, and research and development are greater than ever before.

Learning Laboratory II Speakers

  • James Brown, Executive Director, STEM Education Coalition
  • Teresa Cooper, Principal, Deloitte Consulting, Chief Inclusion Officer, and National Leader, Life Sciences R&D Practice
  • Renee Forney, Executive Director, CyberSkills Management Support Initiative, Department of Homeland Security
  • Graham Harrison, Acting Section Head, International Science and Engineering, National Science Foundation
  • Travis Lail ‘01, Business Planner, ExxonMobil International
  • Scott Pace, Director, Center for International Science and Technology Policy and the Space Policy Institute, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University
  • Jongwon Park, Associate Director, Science and Technology Policy Program, SRI International and Senior Research Fellow, Center for International Science and Technology Policy, George Washington University
  • John Sanders, Chief Technology Officer, Transportation Security Administration
  • Antonin Scalia, Senior Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court
  • Wanda Ward, Office Head, Office of International and Integrative Activities, National Science Foundation

Prior to departing for our nation’s capital, the class prepared by reading relevant articles and gaining insight from three of NC State’s own experts:

During their first evening in Washington, the Class of 2017 participated in rotating small-group conversations with the following Park Scholarships alumni, who shared some of their own professional experiences related to the topic of STEM-based challenges:

  • Ric Chapman ‘13, Aerospace Engineer, AIA Corporation
  • Richard “Memie” Ezike ‘05, Environmental Analyst, EnviroBro LLC and Financial Coach, Transamerica
  • Zack Hester ‘11, Technology Consultant, Deloitte Consulting
  • Maggie Linak ‘06, APS/AAAS Congressional Science and Technology Policy Fellow
  • Caitlin Kelleher Meisenbach ‘07, Attorney, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Ryan O’Quinn ‘04, Bio/Pharmaceutical Patent Attorney, Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP
  • Jessie Ritter ‘10, Knauss Sea Grant Fellow, U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard Subcommittee
  • Jacqueline Smith ‘06, Program Officer, Biosecurity Engagement Program, U.S. Department of State

In addition to meeting with speakers, while in Washington the Class of 2017 toured the U.S. Capitol Building; saw a performance by the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center; dined on dim sum; explored the monuments by moonlight; and visited points of interest such as the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, the Library of Congress, U.S. Botanic Garden, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Newseum, and the National Zoo.

“When I was advocating for this to be our Learning Lab II topic about eight months ago, I never could have imagined that it would have so much complexity,” said Evan Smith ‘17, member of the Learning Laboratory II Committee. “Our discussions covered a full range of issues concerning the United States and our role worldwide in STEM fields. We delved deep into all four of our target areas, talking about communication, policy, education, and research and development, and how we match up to other countries in those areas. I loved every minute of it. From my perspective, these issues are not only what decide my future as an engineering professional, but also the general direction that our job markets are heading in.”

Learning Laboratory II Committee

  • Mark DeMaria ‘17, Co-Chair
  • Amanda Sautner ‘17, Co-Chair
  • Natalie Aziz ‘17
  • Alex Kim ‘17
  • Tessa Loazer ‘17
  • Megan McNeil ‘17
  • Suzanne Phillips ‘17
  • Evan Smith ‘17
View more photos from the Class of 2017’s Learning Lab II in this Facebook album.