U, The V(i)llage inspiring future black engineers and scientistsYouth group to participate in STEM U immersion experience at the U

The University of Utah’s STEM Outreach Committee, Office of Engagement and The V(i)llage are partnering to inspire future black engineers and scientists by hosting a STEM U college experience for middle and high school students on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017.

Student participants are members in The V(i)llage, a comprehensive leadership bridge program for self-identifying African, African-American, multiracial black and inclusive-minded students who attend Clearfield, Cottonwood, Syracuse and Woods Cross high schools; and Central Davis, North Davis, North Layton, Sunset, South Davis and Syracuse junior high schools.

This is the third year The V(i)llage has conducted a college immersion visit with black students who aspire to achieve degree attainment. Those who participate in this event will learn about the benefits of obtaining careers within science, technology, engineering and math professions where critical thinking, application and practice meet in the real world.

“As African-Americans, we come from a legacy of inventors and scientists,” said Nedra Hotchkins, The V(i)llage program co-founder. “We want students to know their history and create history in the STEM field. STEM U is a great opportunity to spark interest and create a strong bridge for our students. My desire is to expose students to career fields that are underrepresented by African-Americans. We hope to encourage, expose and excite students on this path with interactive hands-on activities and a panel of professionals.”

STEM U is designed to provide participants with an educational understanding about how science, technology, engineering and math are applied in the real world for the betterment of humanity. In partnership with The V(i)llage, the College of Engineering and Office of Engagement, STEM U was organized to promote an interest in STEM professions and to expose black students, who might attend the University of Utah in the immediate future, to the benefits of working in these fields.

“Black students are not only underrepresented in STEM majors nationally, but also in institutions of higher education within Utah,” said Bryan K. Hotchkins, The V(i)llage program co-founder. “The ripple effect is a decrease in black professionals entering STEM industries, which can be corrected if there is early exposure to these fields at the middle and high school levels. We created STEM U to serve as a catalyst for teaching black students about how they can contribute to the society through the sciences. Additionally, participants will gain valuable rapport building time with University of Utah engineering students, which is an added benefit.”

During the visit, students also participate in engineering and science-related, hands-on, observational activities and experience an educational panel address University of Utah engineering faculty and science-related professionals who work in Utah. The event theme, STEM U, dares students to see themselves as valuable pieces to science equations that need to be solved in unique ways. The event concludes after participants have participated in three educational tracks hosted by the College of Engineering and designed to highlight the experiences of students within the context of science, technology, engineering and math problem solving.

“Engineering problems are human problems, and only when everyone is included and welcome can those problems be addressed,” said Tony Butterfield, a professor in the U Chemical Engineering Department. “I am honored and excited to participate and welcome these future scientists and engineers to the university.”

About The V(i)llage
Created in September 2014 by Dr. Bryan and Nedra Hotchkins, M.Ed., The V(i)llage leadership bridge program focuses on teaching self-identifying black students leadership development, self-advocacy, positive academic outcomes, cultural validation, the value of communal engagement and school involvement with peers and teachers. The program serves as a pathway to college by educating students about degree attainment and career opportunities after completing college. The V(i)llage program serves approximately 251 students within the Granite and Davis School districts. Additionally, The V(i)llage also serves parents of black children in what is known as The Community V(i)llage, a holistic parenting program designed to educate participants about race relations, transracial adoption best rearing practices, and how to address issues of racism in K-20 learning environments. For more information about The V(i)llage, visit thinkpositionality.org/village or contact Bryan K. Hotchkins at 405-826-3492 or drbhotchkins@gmail.com to learn about the STEM U college immersion tour.

About the University of Utah Office of Engagement
The University of Utah Office of Engagement works to connect the community with higher education through mentoring and preparing students of all ages to be college ready. The office fosters achievement though advising, field trips and the creation of a safe space to learn and discover. One of the Office of Engagement programs, Defining Your Path Field Trip (DYP), has worked with The V(i)llage and numerous schools in the community to get students to campus to experience higher education. The DYP Field Trip Program brings together University of Utah’s departments and students in an immersive learning experience to explore interests and the endless possibilities higher education can provide. For more information about the Office of Engagement, contact Logan Meyers, Office of Engagement, at 801-587-2997 or email logan.meyers@utah.edu to learn about the STEM U college immersion tour.

About the STEM Outreach Committee
The STEM Outreach Committee is a coalition of outreach educators at the University of Utah that represent university programs pertaining to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The STEM Outreach Committee was created as a way for outreach educators to collaborate and update one another about various projects and events that the university is involved with and supply those educators with opportunities for participation. The goal of this committee is to reach as many Utah schools as possible and educate K-12 students about the vast opportunities in STEM education and how to pursue STEM-related programs in a higher education setting.

Media Contacts

Bryan HotchkinsCo-founder of the The Village
Mobile: 405-639-0457

Nedra HotchkinsCo-founder of The V(i)llage
Mobile: 405-639-0457

Logan MeyersUniversity of Utah Office of Engagement
Office: 801-587-2997

Annalisa PurserCommunications Specialist, University Marketing & Communications
Office: 801-581-7295 Mobile: 435-232-0312