Aspiring scientists, medical professionals, engineers and mathematicians were among the crowd of area high school students who attended Mount Wachusett Community College’s third annual STEM Awareness Day promoting academic programs and careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
Nearly 90 high school seniors from Fitchburg, Leominster, Oakmont, Montachusett Reginal Vocational Technical, Gardner, North Middlesex and Mahar high schools attended the half-day event on March 4. Activities included a hard hat tour of the college’s new STEM building, which opens this fall, an experiment creating DNA necklaces from their own saliva, an overview on healthcare careers and academic programs, and presentations on fire science technology, manufacturing, and college success.
Janice Barney, Dean of MWCC’s School of Business, Science, Technology and Math teamed up with Associate Vice-President of Facilities Management Jon Wyman to lead groups of students through the new building. The 44,000-square-foot addition to the main campus will house state-of-the-art classrooms and science laboratories that will be central to academic programs such as allied health, biology, biotechnology, chemistry, medical laboratory science, computer information systems, natural resources, nursing, physical therapist assistant, physics and pre-engineering.
While cycling through the stations, many of the students shared their excitement and experiences through social media, posting photos and comments on Twitter using the college’s #MWCC hashtag and the event hashtag #takeiton.
That’s how Twitter followers learned that Oakmont senior Jon Chernock will graduate high school this spring with a full year of college courses already completed as a dual enrollment student at MWCC. “I’ll have one year of classes done, then complete my degree in physics at MWCC before transferring to UMass to major in physics,” he said.
In addition to showcasing academic and career opportunities, the event served to raise awareness about the college’s STEM Starter Academy, funded through a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, and the STEM SET scholarship program, funded through a grant from the National Science Foundation.
The college is currently recruiting students for its seven-week STEM Starter Academy summer program, which begins July 5. Participating students will receive up to two free college courses, textbooks, up to $1,200 in stipends, academic support and tutoring, and will attend industry field trips and MWCC’s Summer Leadership Academy.
MWCC’s STEM Starter Academy students have gone on to transfer to public and private colleges and universities to continue on for their bachelor’s degrees, including Carnegie Melon, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, University of Massachusetts campuses, MCPHS University, and others.