‘Shark Tank’ style STEM event fills workforce needs


On Thursday Huntsville became the first place in Alabama to start filling a workforce need in a new way.

Future college students combined engineering and entrepreneurship to solve problems companies like Boeing may have. It’s like the show Shark Tank, but with high school seniors pitching ideas to engineering and manufacturing leaders. It went on at the Space and Rocket Center and they’re hoping to spread it throughout the south east.

Boeing and the Alabama Community College System teamed up with the group Next Flex to put the Rocket City’s high schoolers’ ideas on the spot.

“One of the key things that we need for part of the future workforce is to have students and people who are familiar with this technology,” said Robert Smith with Boeing Research and Technology.

That is, technology that’s brand new. Boeing is looking to use flexible electronics you can wrap around any surface. Guess what these kids designed.

“By a show of hands, how many people are worried about gun safety?” a student asked the room during his pitch presentation.

They have to solve a problem with a flexible electronic.

“That is a brand new work space that not a lot of people are involved in right now and a lot of key skills are 3D perception, data analytics, electrical design, mechanical design,” Smith listed. “They all come together and that’s something we really think a lot of students are interested in getting involved in and we’re trying to bring them toward that technology space.”

The students are gravitating that way.

“I don’t think my classmates know how big of a deal this actually is,” said Aashawnti Nye from Hazel Green High School. “I might even get a job from this or internship.”

Boeing leaders say efforts like this help fill Huntsville’s workforce needs as that workforce keeps filling the needs of the country. These events have been going on in other states like California and Smith says Boeing has followed up with kids’ technology ideas.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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