New York Hall of Science receives $500,000 grant to advance STEM education

Stem night: Exploring the tech workforce
Photo courtesy of NYSCI

The New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) and Cognizant U.S. Foundation have launched a partnership that will prepare and inspire more than 1,000 students and their families in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) world.

They made the announcement during their “Exploring the Tech Workforce” night on Wednesday, Oct. 30, at the Flushing Meadows Corona Park science museum. The event, which was geared toward high school and college students, consisted of a panel with four diverse professionals who currently work in the STEM industry and a networking portion in which students got to speak with even more professionals.

Cognizant U.S. Foundation, a private organization that supports STEM education and skills training founded in May 2018, awarded NYSCI with a grant of $500,000.

“What better investment than an institution like NYSCI, where we’ve long been invested in as a company,” Kristen Titus, the executive director of Cognizant U.S. Foundation, told QNS. “We’ve really been big supporters of this institution because we know the important role that it plays in this community and the role it plays in building a pipeline for today and tomorrow.”

The grant will be used to fund NYSCI’s Science Career Ladder, a program that trains high school and college students to act as facilitators (or, Explainers) for museum visitors. The program currently employs 125 facilitators, who represent 42 neighborhoods across New York City and speak more than 21 languages, according to Cognizant.

Jamaica resident Kristian Roopnarine, who recently graduated from City College with a masters in chemistry, has been an Explainer since he started his college career.

“It’s an experience that [museum visitors] can’t really find at a lot of other museums,” Roopnarine, who’s pursuing a career in coding, said. “We help them at these exhibits and explain different science concepts and just have conversations to try and spark curiosity in them so when they leave the museum, they have something to think about.”

Carol Cohen, senior vice president at Cognizant, announced the partnership during the event and believes that together they will be able to offer even more programming to help local students learn about what it means to be in the STEM industry.

“If you think about students of this age, they’re really thinking about their whole future. The world is their oyster,” Cohen said. “We’re hoping to inspire and attract them by getting them into activities, learning, networking, meeting with people in the field and hopefully pursuing careers in this space.”

According to Cognizant’s Job of the Future Index, which tracks the demand for jobs of the future, jobs within the algorithms, automation and AI category maintained a steady 13 percent annual growth. Some of the jobs included in this category are Computer Scientists, Cyber/Information Security Engineer, Software Developer/Engineer, Video Game Designer, Robotics Engineer, and Data Scientist.

Margaret Honey, president and CEO of NYSCI, was also present at the event. She’s hopeful of the future and believes NYSCI will help students achieve their goals with this partnership.

“In a world where the nature of work is evolving at a rapid pace, our foundational philosophy of ‘Design, Make, Play’ guides us in preparing young people with the skills and competencies that will serve them well, not only to succeed in the future, but also to play an active role in shaping it,” Honey said.