Tackling the STEM Skills Gap in Boston

As our world continues to evolve and new technologies change the way we do business and interact with each other, the demand for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) experts is on the rise. While the future holds exciting and untold possibilities, continuous change has a tendency to create a "skills gap." In the STEM field, the skills gap results in a pressing need for knowledgeable people capable of performing the work at hand, as well as leading the innovation of the future.

According to Teach for America, there will be more than 8 million STEM jobs available in the U.S. alone, but the majority of U.S. students will be unprepared to fill them. Despite the increased focus on drawing children into STEM programs, the gap will persist-and even increase-and must be met head-on so that its challenges turn into opportunities.

Join WITI Boston and a panel of esteemed thought leaders as we explore this complex subject:

- A discussion on how American corporations and educators can collaborate better to develop and nurture STEM students and reduce the local skills gap
- Exploration of how knowledge providers can offer programs to people at all stages of their careers to broaden their abilities
- A review of best practices for companies and their training resources to take the lead in supporting their workforces and equipping them to maintain relevancy

STEM enthusiasts, educators, business leaders and strategists, and those in talent development and recruitment will find this meeting to be insightful and relevant.

Featured Speakers

Chandana Gopal is Research Manager for IDC Business Analytics software, responsible for the advanced and predictive analytics practice. Her core research coverage includes the vendor and buyer research in business intelligence and predictive analytics. Based on her background in integration and analytics, Chandana's research includes a particular emphasis on how analytics is being embedded into many different software applications, and how end user requirements are driving technology design.

Chandana has been an analyst IDC for several years. Early on as an analyst she covered CRM apps, but more recently her work has been in integration middleware covering markets such as API management, file sync and share, and B2B integration. Her research specialty includes doing detailed technical evaluations driven by her prior experience in Deloitte Consulting and Wipro Information Systems, where she focused on software implementations and business strategy development.

She hold a M.B.A in Information Systems from Boston College, B.S. in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Mysore University, India. She is a frequent speaker, presenter and moderator at industry conferences and contributes regularly contributes to media outlets like CNBC.

Parna Sarkar-Basu leads brand and buzz marketing for Kaminario, a leading all-flash storage company. She has a track record of putting start-ups on the map, elevating growing companies to industry leaders and creating new market categories. Prior to Kaminario, Parna has led marketing and global communications functions at various technology companies, including iRobot, iCorps Technologies, Invention Machine (acquired by IHS) and PTC. She has also been instrumental in creating and executing successful initial public offering (IPO) and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) communications strategies.

Parna is a STEM ambassador and an advocate of women in technology. She is the Boston Network Executive Advisor for Women in Technology International (WITI) and co-founder of South Shore Science Festival.

Parna has created corporate programs for K-12 students so they can see 'science in motion' and sent 'mentors' to schools to encourage students to pursue non-traditional careers. She designed and organized the Math Wizards Club -- a fun club to get elementary students interested in math and science. It was a big hit with the students and teachers and was rolled out to five elementary schools in her town. The program was developed in collaboration with principals, teachers and local organizations.

She has also served on various boards, including Westwood Educational Foundation (WEF grants support the development of educational programs for students and adults) and Westwood Cares, a collaboration between parents, school and town administrators and police department to keep students safe and drug-free.

Brandy Freitas is the Teen Program Manager at Science Club for Girls, a local non-profit that fosters excitement, confidence and literacy in STEM for girls from underrepresented communities. With an emphasis on the importance of active, hands-on experiences, Brandy develops and runs the Challenge Teams at SCFG. Most recently, she created and implemented the SCFG Tech Team, where girls learn to program for mobile applications. She is also the lead for the STEM Internships Program, placing girls 16 and up into genuine research experiences in academic and industry settings.

Throughout her career, Brandy has been focused on science communication and the accessibility of science to the public. She attended the Rochester Institute of Technology as an undergraduate, where she studied Biochemistry and Physics. As President of the Honors College, she worked with professors from the College of Science to develop courses aimed at demystifying STEM for non-science majors. Named a Goldwater Research Fellow based on her work with the crystallin proteins implicated in cataract disease, Brandy's research took her from the University of California San Diego, Dartmouth, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and finally to Harvard.

As a James Mills Pierce Fellow at Harvard University, Brandy was able to expand on her interest in protein structure and function, as well as her passion for outreach. During graduate school, she served as mentor scientist for the SCFG K-5 programs, facilitated tours and experiments in her lab with teens from the program, and conducted curriculum training workshops for incoming mentors. Her work in cryo-electron microscopy was funded in part through her National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, and she received her Master's Degree in Biophysics from Harvard in 2014. Since graduating, Brandy has dedicated her time to advocating for women and girls in STEM as part of the staff at Science Club for Girls.

Anne M. Powers earned her PhD in Microbiology from the Medical College of Virginia (VCU) in 1979. She belonged to the lab of Dr. S. Gaylen Bradley studying the effects of Endotoxin on cellular activities.. After that Dr. Powers spent four years in a postdoctoral research position at the National Institutes of Health. working in the lab of Dr. Reuben Siraganian. She studied the membrane and cellular activities of Rat Basophilic Leukemia cells during histamine release. Upon completion of the postdoctoral fellowship Dr. Powers taught Microbiology, Microbial Ecology, and Genetics at Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA.

In 1996 Dr. Powers began working at Regis College in Weston, MA teaching in the Biology Department. She became an Associate Dean of Natural Sciences and then moved into the Associate Dean of STEM and Education while maintaining her appointment as a Professor of Biology.

Dr. Gretchen Fougere was the Boston University College of Engineering's inaugural Assistant Dean for Outreach and Diversity and joined Boston University from the Boston Museum of Science in January 2011. As an executive, she serves as the focal point for planning, developing and implementing outreach and diversity programs and implements the strategic goals to broaden and build the K-12 pipeline, Creating Societal Engineers® equipped to solve complex problems in healthcare, energy, security, communication and other areas. Currently, she started and leads 50 Inspiration Ambassadors in Technology Innovation Scholars Program which annually reaches thousands of K-12 students nationwide with relatable role-models and hands-on Technology and Engineering activities. To date, they have reached over 17,400 students in 28 states, of whom 25% are underrepresented minorities and 50% are female middle and high school students. With the School of Education, she designed and leads the STEM Educator Engineer Program to produce Engineers with Bachelor's degrees and Masters in Teaching Science and Math in secondary schools nationwide, a program which received NSF support and inclusion into 100Kin10. She directs the summer scholarships and engineering workshops for middle school students, U-Design. She also organizes the annual GEM Grad Lab for underrepresented groups and advises the SWE and GWISE female engineers. She was named a Mass High Tech Woman to Watch in 2013 and an Inspiring Women in STEM in 2016. In 2013, she was promoted to Associate Dean of Outreach and Diversity. In 2015, she was selected as one of 29 Engineering Fellows of the Carnegie Corporation and 100Kin10 and was invited to attend a meeting at the White House with the Office of Science and Technology Policy leaders. Annually she collaborates on about 13 research grants with engineering faculty and helps recruit and propel engineers to the BU engineering undergraduate, graduate and faculty populations. Her programs received extramural funding from NSF, NASA, Genzyme, AT&T, Accenture, Ametek, and the Argosy, Ingalls and Kern Foundations.

As an engineer, Fougere has managed teams and developed products in aerospace, energy storage, nanotechnology and other high technology industries. She earned a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering (Nanotechnology) from Northwestern University and Bachelor's degrees in Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering from Vanderbilt University. She was a design and structural engineer at Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Engines, a research assistant at Argonne National Laboratory, and engineering researcher and manager at Motorola and Duracell (Gillette). She holds three US patents. As an educator, Fougere has taught science and engineering and delivered science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) outreach programs at public schools and other forums. She was a senior leader of the Engineering is Elementary curriculum project at the Museum of Science, managing partnerships with participating educational organizations and providing training and resources to elementary school educators.

Schedule of Events

5:30 pm - Registration and Networking
6:15 pm - WITI Welcome and Introduction
6:30 pm - STEM Careers Panel Discussion
7:45 pm - Raffle Prizes & Closing
8:00 pm - Networking
8:30 pm - Event Ends

Meeting Notes

Light appetizers and beverages will be provided. If you or your company wish to host or sponsor an event please ask one of the leadership team members listed here. Thank you for your interest.