Join us this week on SmartBlog on Education as we highlight Q&As with the panelists from our recent STEM Pathways Roundtable event. Read our most recent interview with Sabari Raja, CEO of Nepris.
Why is the issue of connecting industry and education to enhance STEM education important to you?
I landed in engineering because my parents said so. Unfortunately, I don’t have that kind of control over my kids. Kids today need to understand the relevance of what they are learning in the classroom and how it applies to the real world and eventually how it ties to a career. Sixty-seven percent of kids have no idea what STEM professionals do.
What is a top barrier to making this connection?
Most kids don’t have a role model in their life or in their community. If they don’t see these connections as part of their learning experience, it’s hard to convince them to pursue any career. How is probability applied in the video games they play? Why do cosmetics companies need to have chemists on their payroll? Who designs theme parks and how is STEM involved in that? I wish I knew why I learned calculus!
How do you envision your role in – or contribution to – this effort?
There are many stakeholders involved in connecting industry and education. Company outreach, non-profits, STEM Hubs, universities, etc., etc. In spite of the attention to this issue at the highest level, industry engagement is still so unreachable for most classrooms. My role as part of Nepris is to use technology to bring down some of these barriers of connecting industry and education; to provide all these stakeholders one common platform to connect and scale education outreach.
How can technology help break down some of these barriers?
Today technology provides mobility, accessibility, scalability and accountability. Technology can bridge geographic barriers and help bring people together effectively. At Nepris, we have kept the teacher at the center of the platform because they own the classroom, and we need to empower them, level the playing field by providing rural schools the same access to industry connections as urban schools. We are able to use matching algorithms to enable skills-based volunteering, provide virtual incentives, track usage data and student impact to help make education outreach part of their every professional’s profile.
Sabari Raja, CEO of Nepris.
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