Mazda, Community Gathers for STEM Push

Isabel Hanewicz, RHStoday Editor-in-Chief

A Mazda race car spent time in the student parking lot today as Mazda racing brought their national STEM program to Robinson High School.

Joel Miller, a driver who will race in the Mazda Saturday’s in the Sebring competition, spoke to students about the importance of STEM, along with Mazda motorsports specialist Kyle Kimball and sergeant Liam Dwyer, also a Mazda race car driver.

“Currently, we don’t have the supply of the degree of engineers to fill [the needed] rates,” Kimball told the students, who all take a STEM class like statistics or physics. “That’s where you all come in.”

According to US Department of Education statistics, only 16% of high school seniors are proficient in math and want to pursue in a STEM career, yet it is one of the fastest growing job markets in the nation.

There’s a deficit that needs to be filled, and the Mazda program aims to fix that.

“It goes back to the opportunities that currently exist in the STEM field,” said Kimball. “There’s not enough people going into them… The opportunities are almost endless.”

The day drew community leaders as well, including Acting Superintendent Jeff Eakins, School Board members Sally Haris and Cindy Staurt, Lightining owner Jeff Vinik and Congresswoman Kathy Castor. They also stayed after the presentations to have a STEM roundtable with students.

“[Technology] changes not only how we deliver education, but we have to do to prepare kids for the workforce,” said Eakins. “If we want to really do you justice, we have to make sure we’re doing something to give you exposure.”

Eakins, who was recently voted as the next supertiendent by the School Board pending contract negotiation, said teachers will play a big role in helping the district become more innovative.

“We’ve got to master our delivery and our instruction to meet the needs of our students,” he said, noting that teachers can be more apprehensive of technology then the often tech-savvy student.

“Once we feel like we’ve supported the teachers well enough than it’s really all about ensuring that we have different kinds of pathways set up for you, for the students to really be ready to be connected to the workforce.”