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Education Pipeline

STEM Hub Happenings: Ying Tri-Region Science and Engineering Fair

Ying students

Last weekend, students from across upstate New York gathered at SUNY’s Onondaga Community College for the fourth annual Dr. Nelson Ying Tri Region Science and Engineering Fair (TRSEF).

Numerous partners from across Upstate New York came together to make this possible. More than thirty different sponsors provided funds, volunteers, and a passion for science. Sponsors included private businesses such as Corning Incorporated, community organizations such as the Syracuse Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and institutions of higher education, including Onondaga Community College. With so many sponsors working together to serve New York’s student scientists, the fair is a prime example of harnessing the power of partnerships!

YingTRSEF_logoThe Ying TRSEF is expanding its reach and creating a buzz in the upstate New York STEM hub. The fair was originally started in 2006 with help from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) and a small group of partners, including the Greater Syracuse Scholastic Science Fair.

In 2010 two partners recognized the potential of the event and the importance of scientific engagement among young people and took action. The Onondaga Community College Foundation and Dr. Nelson Ying, a scientist and philanthropist who sponsors several science fairs in Florida, came together, guided and inspired by the dedication and passion of fair director Mary Ellen Wood.  Almost immediately the fair saw growth, doubling in participants. Encouraged by the passion of everyone involved, Onondaga Community College agreed to host the fair for the next five years, providing staff, resources, and the local ties to the community.  Dr. Nelson Ying doubled his challenge grant of $7,500 to $15,000, turning every dollar donated into two. With more than thirty local partners coming together to witness and contribute to this exciting initiative, the future looks bright for Ying TRSEF.

In the years ahead, many of the fastest growing industries across the state and the nation demand a workforce that is capable in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in addition to the arts and humanities. Over 90% of the 8 million STEM jobs projected through 2018 will require at least some college with a range from a professional certification, to Associate’s Degrees, to Bachelor’s Degrees and beyond. The nation also needs 100,000 more STEM teachers over the next ten years. Data on the STEM pipeline is daunting, however.  According to the 2012 STEM Vital Signs released by Change the Equation, no state is on track to getting all students the STEM skills they need to succeed in college and careers. Low-income and minority students lag furthest behind. Through opportunities like the Ying Tri Region Science and Engineering Fair, the previously ignored students of 24 counties have been given access to an invaluable resource by a STEM hub that is passionate about Science and Engineering.   Partner support events like the Ying TRSEF are invaluable to our future to the future of our students and to a 21st century workforce.

To see this year’s winning projects and follow them to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, or donate to the Ying TRSEF, please visit

This is another great example of what is going on across New York thanks to SUNY and the Empire State STEM Learning Network. The Empire State STEM Learning Network is a statewide, community led collaborative advancing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education to prepare all students across New York State for success in school, work and life.  Empire STEM is transforming education through regionally-based STEM communities that can create and implement the most innovative approaches in classrooms, schools and programs. A connected set of regional hubs and partners are beginning to work together more efficiently to identify, test, validate, share and advance promising and innovative STEM teaching and learning programs, practices, policies, platforms and partnerships.

Written by Will Donovan

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