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Industry Leaders Inspire the Workforce of Tomorrow through iMAGINE Upstate’s STEM Showcase

March 26, 2015

The national economy has continued to experience steady growth and with more companies electing to do business in the U.S., there is a growing need for highly skilled labor to meet the demand for American-made goods. In fact, recent executive surveys by Area Development magazine have shown that the availability of skilled labor has become the No. 1 factor in site selection.

The state of South Carolina ranks atop many lists as one of the best in the nation when it comes to filling that need thanks to training programs like readySC and Apprenticeship Carolina, and here in Upstate South Carolina, our pipeline of 30+ institutions of higher learning helps produce a high concentration of architectural and engineering talent, mechatronic specialists, team assemblers and metal workers, and machinists and fabricators.

While the region continues to prosper from our reputation for producing highly-skilled labor, industry leaders in Upstate South Carolina understand the critical need to foster the growth of the next generation workforce. The foundation for tomorrow’s workforce starts with the advancement of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education, which prepares students for the modern workplaces of the present and future.

To help students understand how STEM-related skills can be applied in a number of exciting ways, a collective group of Upstate South Carolina leaders have created an innovative way to showcase the world of STEM. iMAGINE Upstate is a weeklong series of crowd-sourced programs and signature events designed to promote cultural and economic development with a celebration and showcase of STEM, innovation and entrepreneurial activity in Upstate South Carolina. The program will kick off on March 28th, 2015 with the CU-ICAR 2nd Annual Millennium Drive Car & Cruise and will capstone with a family-friendly festival in downtown Greenville on Saturday, April 4th, 2015.

“iMAGINE Upstate was created to generate ‘Aha’ moments that will inspire students in South Carolina,” said Ryan Heafy, Executive Director of iMAGINE Upstate. “With over half of the STEM-related workforce reaching retirement in the next five to ten years, it is critical that we have skilled employees ready to fill the demand.”

Together with partners such as Duke EnergyMichelinBoschGreenville Technical CollegeBMWTri-County Technical College and more, iMAGINE Upstate will work to educate students, families and young professionals about the opportunities available in STEM-related work fields and drive sustainable change in our educational system by igniting an interest in STEM programs outside of the classroom.

“Every dollar we contribute to education is an investment in the future of the Upstate,” said Clark Gillespy, president for South Carolina for Duke Energy, the largest electrical power holding company in the United States. “Supporting effective education programs and initiatives that emphasize STEM is a critical focus for Duke Energy. We are proud to be part of this exciting venture with iMAGINE Upstate and look forward to seeing firsthand students get excited about energy, math and science. Programs like this lay the foundation for our future leaders in these fields.”

“As an industry, it is our collective task to spark an interest in science and technology among students at a young age, and nurture this interest as they grow,” said Mike Mansuetti, president of Robert Bosch LLC. “The iMAGINE Upstate events bring innovation, creativity and science to South Carolina families, and Bosch is excited to share in the celebration.”

The week-long celebration will feature a number of crowd-sourced programs, workshops, presentations, competitions and events, each designed to support iMAGINE Upstate’s six core program tracks—learn, engage, create, innovate, launch and make.

The festival, running from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on April 4th, will include more than 50 tents lining Main Street in downtown Greenville in addition to several featured stages, including:

  • Robotics Demo at the Bosch INNOVATE Stage 
  • Roper Mountain Science Center Show at the GE Power & Water ENGAGE Stage 
  • Brooks Brothers Workforce of the Future Fashion Show at the Fluor CREATE Stage 
  • AJ Whittenburg Hovercraft Experience at the Greenville Technical College LEARN Stage 
  • The Children’s Museum of the Upstate Experience at the Michelin MAKE Stage 
  • The iMAGINE Challenge: An Interactive Game Show at the iMAGINE Upstate LAUNCH Stage 

“Being part of iMAGINE Upstate is more than participating in a festival,” said Leesa Owens, community relations representative for Michelin North America. “This is a chance to invest in the Upstate and our students. We want to inspire the next generation of designers, engineers and innovators.”

To further the conversation and create growing interest in STEM and innovation, iMAGINE Upstate has also launched a student awareness campaign entitled “You Decide.” Student and industry leaders can participate by using the hashtag “#Udecide” on social media.

To learn more about the iMAGINE Upstate and the upcoming festival, visit www.imagineupstate.org.

Those interested in volunteering for the downtown festival can sign up at http://www.volunteerspot.com/login/entry/11461844920120.

Read More about STEM in Upstate South Carolina:

Looking at the Future of STEM: A Q&A with CU-ICAR Automotive Engineering Instructor Dee Kivett

How We Should Imagine the Future of STEM Education

TOPICS: Celebrations, Skilled Workforce, News You Can Use, Colleges & Universities