Think Tank Meetings

Each year, The Arkansas STEM Coalition hosts STEM Think Tanks throughout the state with the theme of connecting schools, businesses, and communities.

The most recent STEM Think Tank was held in Northwest Arkansas on January 30, 2024 at the Fayetteville Public Library. Each STEM Think Tank features presentations and panel discussions designed to connect participants and to further the larger purpose of preparing a well-equipped STEM workforce for high-demand, high-wage jobs across Arkansas. Businesses, educators, and community members will all benefit from these events that are jam-packed with information and networking.

STEM Think Tank Northwest Arkansas Agenda:
(all Think Tanks follow a similar agenda)

  • 8:30 Check in, coffee and pastries, visit exhibitors
  • 9:00 Welcome to STEM Think Tank Northwest Arkansas
    • Hannah Vogler, Executive Director, The Arkansas STEM Coalition
    • Senate Minority Leader Greg Leding (D-30), Arkansas State Senate
    • Representative Denise Garner (D-20), Arkansas House of Representatives
  • 9:05 The View from Higher Ed: Preparing Students for STEM Careers
    • Moderator: Tina Moore, Ed.D., Director of Workforce Development, Arkansas Division of Higher Education
    • Evetta Aldridge, M.A., Dean of Workforce Development, Business and Professional Solutions, NorthWest Arkansas Community College
    • Ethel Goodstein-Murphree, Ph.D., Professor of Architecture and Associate Dean, Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, University of Arkansas
    • Christopher Smith, Ed.D, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Arkansas Colleges of Health Education
    • Silke Spiesshoefer, Ph.D., MBA, Clinical Assistant Professor and ELEG Distance Program Director, College of Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department, University of Arkansas
  • 10:00 Networking & Visit Exhibitors
  • 10:15 Arkansas STRIVE: Educators and Business Working Together
    • Mary French, RISE Center Coordinator, Assistant Director, STRIVE, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
    • Moriah Santiago, Champions Science Teacher, J.O. Kelly Middle School, Springdale Public Schools
  • 10:40 K-12 STEM Partnerships: Good for Schools and Industry
    • Moderator: Lesley Merritt, Director of Science, Fayetteville Public Schools
    • Fayetteville Public Library: Melissa Taylor, Manager, J.B, and Johnelle Hunt Family Center for Innovation
    • Learning Blade-Career Blade-Ready for Industry: James Wilson, Career Development Teacher, Lincoln Junior High School, Bentonville Schools
    • Scott Family Amazeum: Sarah Wiley, Professional Learning Initiative Manager, Scott Family Amazeum
    • University of Arkansas: Shawn E. Bell, Director, Center for Mathematics and Science Education/Arkansas NASA Educator Resource Center
  • 11:35 Lunch & Presentation: Arkansas Center for Data Sciences: Apprenticeship and Work-Based Learning Programs
    • William R. Yoder, Executive Director, Arkansas Center for Data Sciences
    • Lonnie Emard, Director of Apprenticeship, Arkansas Center for Data Sciences
  • 12:20 EAST Initiative Student STEM Demonstrations (Sonora Elementary, Springdale Public Schools)
    • Josh Worthy, EAST Facilitator, Sonora Elementary
    • Pablo Aguilar-Hernandez, EAST Student, Sonora Elementary
    • Luis Herrera-Lemus, EAST Student, Sonora Elementary
    • Abigail Ebey, EAST Student, Sonora Elementary
    • Taylor Cole, EAST Student, Sonora Elementary
  • 12:45 Networking & Visit Exhibitors
  • 1:00 STEM Business Partner Perspective: STEM Skills Employers Really Want!
    • Moderator: Kris Adams, Northwest Arkansas Tech Summit Director, Greater Bentonville Chamber of Commerce
    • Korenda Allen, PHR, Director of Human Resources, Beaver Water District
    • Brad Hammond, Vice President, Olsson, Inc.
    • Carrie Reardan, Senior Director of Innovation and Automation, Walmart
    • Chris Wright, Executive Vice President of Operations Support, Nabholz Construction
  • 1:55 Reflections and Closing Remarks
  • 2:00 (Optional) Tours of the J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Center for Innovation: flight simulator, video production studio, fabrication and robotics lab, photography studio, and more!