OnQ Blog

Full STEAM Ahead

Mar 17, 2015

Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

For immersing middle school students in the world of work and fueling their interest in engineering in a very creative and hands-on way, our Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab was honored with a 2015 STEAMConnect Da Vinci Award during the 2nd Annual STEAMConnect Ascend Conference held last week in San Diego.

STEAM is an exciting new movement in education and the local organizations that Qualcomm collaborates with are helping lead the way. STEAM is about infusing creativity via the arts (“A”) into science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. Creativity is so critical to Qualcomm’s business that innovation is one of our core values. We encourage it in our workforce and through the various activities we do for students in our community.

As a proud sponsor of the STEAMConnect Ascend Conference, we welcomed nearly 400 educators, school administrators, nonprofits, parents, business leaders, funders and policymakers from throughout the U.S. to our corporate headquarters for a full day of speakers, professional development workshops, demonstrations and networking. Our Thinkabit Lab, a dedicated maker’s space for 6th-8th grade students, also remained open all day for exploration.

In addition to attending the conference, I worked closely with our Qualcomm speakers and the event organizers to ensure that it ran smoothly and was thrilled to hear from a number of attendees about how excited they were with what they were learning. In keeping with the theme of “Moving from Dialogue to Action,” attendees heard from thought leaders in the arts, education and industry about the impact of the STEAM movement on education policy, funding, industry innovation and the community. They listened to case studies of STEAM in action, shared promising practices and made connections to advance STEAM through cross-discipline collaborations.

For me, the most memorable moments happened when:

  • During the welcome reception on March 4th at the very cool and funky SILO in Makers Quarter, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced Thinkabit Lab as a Da Vinci Award winner and Navrina Singh (pictured below), head of Qualcomm’s Innovation Program (ImpaQt) and Founder of Qualcomm Women in Science and Engineering (QWISE), gave opening remarks and formally kicked off the conference.
  • On March 5th, at the Irwin M Jacobs Lecture Hall, Steve Clemons, senior director of Product Management for Qualcomm Education, Inc., included a call for industry, education and community to align more deeply for greater impact in STEAM and introduced our Qualcomm® QLearn™ mobile education platform which enables 24/7 learning. Ed Hidalgo, senior director of Staffing for Qualcomm, also participated in a panel on STEAM in San Diego and called on the audience to think about how they would create a maker’s space, i.e., get to know who they should ask for help and how it can be tailored to their school or community.

I view Qualcomm’s sponsorship of the Ascend Conference as a natural progression from our previous sponsorship of the Wireless EdTech Conference. Wireless EdTech gave leaders in business, education and government a much-needed opportunity to investigate the potential of mobile broadband for learning.

Now, as mobile technologies gain wider acceptance in classrooms, we need to broaden the conversation and look at how to engage more students in STEAM education and ensure they are equipped to join the 21st century workforce.

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Erin Gavin

Director, Government Affairs