According to the Pew Research Center, occupations in science, technology, engineering and math have grown 79% in the U.S. since 1990 - increasing from 9.7 million to 17.3 million. This growth has only exacerbated the global shortage of qualified STEM professionals. Research has shown that students and young STEM professionals lack the skills needed to succeed in such jobs. World Wide Technology employs thousands of professionals in the STEM fields across the globe and understands the urgency of supporting future tech leaders.

WWT hosted its sixth annual STEM Student Forum, an initiative dedicated to educating high school students on the importance of STEM disciplines and the opportunities they present, while also creating positive change in the St. Louis metropolitan area, where WWT's global headquarters in located.

This year's STEM Student Forum program began in early February with over 125 students from 17 local schools. Each school's team was paired with and supported by WWT mentors and tasked with identifying a problem their school faced due to COVID-19, and pitching a solution.

Because of the pandemic, all STEM Student Forum events were held virtually this year. Throughout the five-week challenge, students met with their mentors remotely and collaborated to develop their solution. Each team submitted their final pitch via video for the opportunity to be selected as one of the top five teams and advance to the finals. 

On March 12, the video pitches from all five finalists were played for the executive judging panel, followed by a seven-minute Q&A session. The panel consisted of Kevin DanaBob FerrellAnn MarrNate McKieand Bob Olwig.

With this tool, meeting attendees, such as students in a lecture or co-workers in a department meeting, are presented with a small series of engaging prompts. Then each attendee selects the prompt they wish to discuss and are separated into breakout rooms with those who made the same selection. After the breakout discussion, Recess automatically sets an optional follow-up meeting for the attendees of each individual breakout for attendees to reconnect. 

Based on their research, the team that created Recess believes that virtual meeting attendees would benefit from this type of engagement with their peers in a variety of ways, including building trust and communication within peer groups and encouraging more active participation in classrooms and meetings.

This group was supported by Theresa Kratschmer, Manager of ATC Development and Allison Ditmore, ATC Developer. 

"It was a pleasure to serve as one of the mentors for the Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience team," said Kratschmer. "The students demonstrated an incredible commitment to developing a solution that would improve the remote learning experience for their entire school. The students were innovative and navigated any challenges with the virtual format with ease. Allison and I were both inspired by their creativity, diligence, and out-of-the-box thinking."

Both Kratschmer and Ditmore agreed they would be thrilled to collaborate with these students again as mentors and hope to see them at WWT as college interns.

John Burroughs School was recognized with a $5,000 second place prize. Lindbergh High School received $2,500 for placing third. Metro Academic and Classical High School received $2,000 for placing fourth. Christian Brothers College High School received $1,500 for placing fifth.

"Through the STEM Student Forum, WWT has created a space for students to identify obstacles within their schools and explore potential technology solutions. Despite the virtual format this year, the students were just as dedicated to preparing well-thought-out proposals for us as previous participants," said Ann Marr, Executive Vice President, Global Human Resources at WWT and one of judges for the event. "Every year, I'm more inspired by the passion these young people hold for improving their community. For six year, WWT has continued to energize and excite young people about the careers opportunities in STEM." 

The remaining schools that participated walked away with $1,000. In all, WWT awarded more than $33,000 to local schools to advance STEM programs in the St. Louis metropolitan area. The schools that participated in the 2021 STEM Student Forum included:

  • Brentwood High School
  • Christian Brothers College High School
  • Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience
  • Hazelwood West High School
  • Incarnate Word Academy
  • John Burroughs School
  • Lindbergh High School
  • Metro Academic & Classical High School
  • Notre Dame High School
  • Pattonville High School
  • Parkway Spark! High School
  • Rosati-Kain High School
  • St. Dominic High School
  • Timberland High School
  • Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School
  • Whitfield School
  • Windsor Senior High School

About World Wide Technology
World Wide Technology (WWT) is a technology solution provider with $13.4 billion in annual revenue that provides digital strategy, innovative technology and supply chain solutions to large public and private organizations around the globe. Based in St. Louis, WWT employs more than 7,000 people and operates over 4 million square feet of warehousing, distribution and integration space in more than 20 facilities throughout the world.

Sara Steindorf
FleishmanHillard for WWT