STEM Roundup: A New Community for STEM Students

A roundup of recent STEM education and employment news.

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GUS the Eagle Soars Into the Stratosphere

STATESBORO, Ga. -- GUS, Georgia Southern University's mascot, has gone where no eagle has gone before: into the stratosphere, on a mission to promote STEM learning. A miniature GUS was attached to a weather balloon and a rig with multiple high definition video cameras and tracking equipment for lift-off at Paulson Stadium, and reached an altitude of 102,000 feet before the weather balloon burst and a parachute returned the Eagle mascot to earth. He traveled more than 70 miles and touched down in some woods outside Mount Vernon, Ga., Georgia Southern News reported. The goal of GUS in Space was to showcase the University's efforts in STEM education which include practical, hands-on use of technology in the telemetry, satellite and antenna labs.

Missouri Student Creates LGBTQ STEM Community

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- The newest organization for gays and lesbians on the University of Missouri campus has STEM education as its focus. Missouri senior Amanda Prescott is the founder of LISA -- LGBTQ in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Association -- to create a sense of community for LGBT students who study science, technology, engineering and math, and to create a niche for herself. "I received a little bit of harassment, just from being a woman in the STEM community," she told the school's newspaper. "(And) when I came out last spring semester, I just felt more uncomfortable and out of place." LISA, she said, is "here to provide information, whether it's about STEM, career advice or just managing being a minority in science."

Talent Shortage Brings Big Paydays and Perks for Silicon Valley Engineers

SAN FRANCISCO -- Twitter's highest-paid executives includes its senior vice president of engineering, who raked in $10.3 million last year -- a salary second only to the tech firm's chief executive, Reuters reported. It's part of a larger trend in Silicon Valley, where a shortage of top engineering talent amid an explosion of venture capital-backed start-ups has inflated paychecks and spurred a recruiting war. Firms are doling out the perks along with big salaries, in addition to the free cafeterias, laundry services and shuttle buses that the Googles and Facebooks of the world are already famous for. One start-up offered a coveted engineer a year's lease on a Tesla sedan, worth around $1,000 a month.

Sailing Away, With STEM on the Horizon

LONG ISLAND, N.Y. -- An Oyster Bay school has joined forces with a marine education nonprofit to use sailing as a fun way to teach STEM principles to seventh- and eighth-grader. "The students don't necessarily have any prior sailing experience," Dave Waldo, executive director of The WaterFront Center, told Newsday of his organization's partnership with St. Dominic's School. "It's just a real and tangible way for them to apply what they've learned in the classroom." One STEM lesson introduces students to "simple machinery" found on a 23-foot sailboat, such as various levers and gears, Waldo said. Another teaches them how wind is formed and can assist with water travel. The effort is an outgrowth of U.S. Sailing's Reach Program, which uses sailing as an educational platform to help youths explore STEM-based careers.

U.S. Army uses race cars to spur innovation

DETROIT -- Nearly 300 of students from 12 metro-area schools participated last week in a new program sponsored by the U.S. Army that uses race cars to teach science, technology, engineering and math skills. In the Ten80 Student Racing Challenge, teams of students work to maximize the performance of remote-control cars for racing against each other. "This is an exciting opportunity to get world-class innovation in front of students, where they think up solutions to challenges presented to them in the shape of a remote-controlled car," Steven Bennett, Prima Civitas' vice president and chief program officer, told the Detroit News. Winning schools in Ten80 go on to a national competition.

Recruiting STEM Students for Cybersecurity

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