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7th Annual Conference for Promoting STEM

Time to Diversify: Narrowing the STEM Gender Gap and Exploring the Lesser-Known STEM Fields

Friday, November 8, 2013
8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Illinois Science + Technology Park
4901 Searle Parkway, Skokie, IL

Keynote Speaker
Cathy Pieronek '84 AERO '95 JD
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Notre Dame University

Women in STEM: The Challenges of Culture, Climate, and Confidence

Cathy Pieronek, J.D., is Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Engineering at the University of Notre Dame. She holds a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering and her J.D. from Notre Dame, and an M.S. in AerospaceEngineering from the University of California - Los Angeles.  She worked as a senior systems engineer on NASA projects for TRW Space and Defense Sector in Redondo Beach, California, before returning to Notre Dame. In her current role, she directs the Women's Engineering Program, oversees the Minority Engineering Program, and has general responsibility for the academic progress of the College's 1100 undergraduates. As Title IX Lead for the Society of Women Engineers, she has had the opportunity to advise government agencies, higher education and professional societies on the need to pay attention to and remedy circumstances that negatively affect the progress of women in engineering.


John Ireland, PhD
Co-Principal Investigator, Nano-Link

Twenty-First Century STEM: Nanotechnology and Education

Now more than a decade into the start of the new century and an 18 billion dollar investment in the National Nanotechnology Initiative here in the United States alone, where and what is nanotechnology today?  How has the global pursuit of nanotechnology influenced the ideas and direction of STEM education so far?  With the slow receding of the Great Recession how can students best be prepared to enter STEM-based careers?  Finally where are STEM education and nanotechnology heading in the future? From futuristic ideas to more down to earth considerations we will examine these questions confronting students, educators and much of the world today.

Patricia Sievert
STEM Outreach Coordinator
Northern Illinois University

The SciGirls Seven: a Tool Box for Engaging All Students in STEM

I believe our world will be enriched if we develop a more diverse population of STEM professionals.  Do you? Would you like a succinct, research-based set of tools to encourage more girls, more minorities, and more students in general to pursue STEM careers? Are you searching for something that’s proven to increase student engagement? Would you like a glimpse at the research behind the tools? Have you found a few successful tactics, perhaps by trial and error, or by your own research that you would like to share? In this session we will explore the tools enumerated in the SciGirls Seven, a bit of the research behind them, and discuss our own successes or learning opportunities.

A Minnesotan by birth, I have now lived longer in Illinois than any other state. I have a B.S. in Applied Design (of the art variety, not engineering) and a Masters in Physics, earned after my youngest child started school.  I have worked at NIU since 2002: six years in Physics Outreach, and more than five years in STEM Outreach. NIU STEM Outreach has grown from a one person operation in 2008 to now employing myself as director, 2.5 fulltime associates, four undergraduate interns, and getting wonderful support from five additional professionals in the Center for P-20 Engagement, of which STEM Outreach is a part. Designing investigations and explorations in STEM to attract student interest is one of my favorite activities. I am a Certified SciGrils trainer, the state lead for the Illinois Girls Collaborative Project, on the Committee on Physics in Pre-High School for the American Association of Physics Teachers, and the Chair-Elect of the Forum on Outreach and Engaging the Public of the American Physical Society. Outside of work I am trying to find time to pursue my art now that my children are all adults. 

Additional Afternoon Breakout Sessions

1. Geographic Information System (GIS) Workshop with Richard Schultz, Elmhurst College
an integration of hardware, software, and data for analyzing geographically referenced information. Learn how this system is valuable in analyzing questions from student success to plant/animal population.

2. Nanotechnology Workshop
a combination of chemistry and physics at the nano scale. You'll learn the basic concepts behind this STEM field and participate in a number of hands-on activities.

3. Radiofrequency Identification Workshop
We have all heard much about what RFID can do, though there are still new applications to be discovered. Learn how it can be a time and money saving technology. Learn also about the basics of how an RFID system can be designed to protect private information.

To register, click HERE which will take you to Eventbrite. The early bird conference fee is $25 effective until Nov. 1 after which the conference fee becomes $30 per person. With support from Oakton Student Government Association, we can offer $5 conference fee for the first 20 students who register.

For more information or for assistance with lodging, contact Gloria Liu, coordinator, Center for Promoting STEM, at or 847.635.1738.


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Contact STEM

Joe Kotowski
Director, Center for Promoting STEM
Professor, Mechanical Design & Mathematics
Room B231, Skokie
Gloria Liu
Coordinator & Co-Director, Center for Promoting STEM
Room 2166, Des Plaines
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