Updated: Nov 24, 2019
From a panel discussion featuring women in STEM, to a powerful keynote address by Congressman Andy Kim, the Grand Opening of the Delran Innovation and Fabrication Lab was a resounding success!
As they arrived on the evening of November 21, guests were greeted by student STEM Ambassadors demonstrating digital design and fabrication in the lab.
The DHS gymnasium was transformed for the event. Guests were treated to a delicious spread of appetizers and desserts, thanks to the Delran Education Association and a grant made possible by the NJEA.
Delran Schools Superintendent Dr. Brian Brotschul kicked off the formal program. He highlighted the mission and beliefs of both the district and the Delran STEM Ecosystem for STEM for all. STEM-literate citizens will be critical in the future, regardless of which field students choose to enter. The Delran Innovation & Fabrication Lab paves the way for college and career pathways.
District Coordinators of STEM Initiatives Mary Jo Hutchinson and Erica DeMichele shared the journey of the Delran Innovation & Fabrication Lab’s transformation from a defunct auto shop into a state-of-the-art facility ready to help the students of today develop the skills of tomorrow.
A panel discussion featuring distinguished women in STEM highlighted the need for equity and access in order to improve the representation of under-represented populations in STEM, particularly women and minorities. Sparking interest and creating early STEM experiences helps all students, and especially under-represented populations, choose and stick with STEM pathways. The panel featured perspectives from various groups. Assistant Commissioner Dr. Linda Eno shared, “The New Jersey Department of Education is proud to see this vision in equity in STEM fulfilled.” Other notable panelists included Anna Payanzo Cotton, the Vice President for Workforce Development for Rowan College at Burlington County; Carolyn Mattern, Pharmacy Supervisor and Informatics Pharmacist at Grand View Health; Kim Case, JD, Executive Director of the Research & Development Council of NJ, and Manager of the New Jersey STEM Pathways Network; and Kya Jones, a sophomore at Delran High School and one of our inaugural STEM Ambassadors.
Congressman Andy Kim delivered a personal and inspiring keynote address, sharing his father’s story, his own achievements, and how we in Delran are setting the stage for the innovation and inspiration of our children. Speaking in the DHS Gym about the Innovation & Fabrication Lab down the hall, Kim said, “The outcomes that start from that room two doors down could have reverberations that stem beyond our wildest imaginations.”
Closing out the night, our STEM Ambassadors interacted with our guests, demonstrating various design software and machines in the lab and talking to visitors about their experiences. STEM Ambassador and DHS sophomore Kya Jones described her experience speaking on the Panel Discussion and interacting with guests in the Lab. “It was exciting to be up there on stage. I felt content with myself knowing I belong here and can explain to them what we do.”
Sophomore STEM Ambassador Abby Olear shared, "It was very nice how the community was able to come together to celebrate the Fab Lab where the Delran STEM community has worked so hard. As an Ambassador, I have enjoyed working in the Lab and I hope the rest of Delran loves it too!" STEM Ambassador and fellow sophomore Emma Frith added, "The grand opening was a great time for us STEM Ambassadors to truly see the impact the lab had on the entire Delran community. It made us feel important, knowing that we could answer the questions from many people of different ages."