More than 300 students from 13 area schools converged on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown Tuesday for the fourth annual STEM Professions Day. The event is designed to further advance the knowledge of the STEM areas (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) among today's kindergarten through 12th grade students and to promote interest in STEM-related careers.
Among the speakers at today's event was Becky Piscitella, a 1999 Pitt-Johnstown secondary education mathematics graduate (summa cum laude) and recipient of a 2010 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Ms. Piscitella spoke to attendees about career opportunities in the field of science and mathematics education, emphasizing that the rewards that come with teaching. She encouraged students to be passionate about their career choices and discussed the role that passion and commitment played in the legendary career of the late Steve Jobs. In her conclusion, she emphasized, "A great career is about commitment."
Members of the Pitt-Johnstown faculty also took part in the event by leading discussions about opportunities in the areas of computer science, engineering, mathematics, and physics. Pitt-Johnstown’s instructor of physics David Willey, who has been featured on the National Geographic Channel and was a regular guest on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," conducted an interactive physics demonstration entitled "How Does a Think Like That Work?". Additional presenters included Dr. James Bilitski, associate professor of computer science; Amy Miller, associate professor of mechanical engineering technology; Frank Smigla, assistant professor of computer science; and Joseph Wilson, instructor of mathematics presentation.
During the event, two merit-based STEM scholarships were awarded to students who will begin their studies at Pitt-Johnstown next fall. All students who applied and were accepted into a STEM major were automatically considered for the scholarships, which are awarded to students who show strong potential for success in a STEM field. This year's recipients are Victoria Maher, a senior at Conemaugh Township High School and daughter of Ed and Diane Maher who plans to major in secondary education mathematics, and Brosnan McCray, a senior at Conemaugh Valley Junior-Senior High School and son of Jackie and Leon McCray who intends to major in pre-pharmacy.
STEM Professions Day is part of Pitt-Johnstown’s strategic effort to sustain and enhance partnerships with K-12 schools to promote science, technology, engineering, and math education in order to ensure that the United States remains an economic and technological leader of the global marketplace.
Founded in 1927, Pitt-Johnstown is located in the Laurel Highlands of Western Pennsylvania and is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh. The University offers a high-quality educational experience in a supportive living-learning environment designed to prepare students for the real world of the 21st century. Pitt-Johnstown is recognized by the Princeton Review as a “Best Northeastern College,” and by G.I. Jobs as a “Military Friendly School.” Additionally, Pitt-Johnstown has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.
Pitt-Johnstown…at the forefront of leading baccalaureate colleges…
Photo: Becky Piscitella '99 talks about the rewards of a career in science and mathematics education.