With STEAM comes opportunity for Nevada County residents | TheUnion.com

With STEAM comes opportunity for Nevada County residents

At the 2017 STEAM Expo, 13-year-old Union Hill eighth-grader Lars Fjeldheim (right) and seventh-grader Joseph Forest, 12, release their sumo-bots. At this year's event, many companies will be looking to pique the interest of middle and high schoolers in the area.
Elias Funez/efunez@theunion.com


What: STEAM Expo

When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday

Where: Nevada County Fairgrounds at 11228 McCourtney Rd, Grass Valley, CA

This year’s STEAM Expo — science, technology, engineering, arts and math — is meant to promote 21st century learning in the county.

Local businesses and organizations will display activities specifically to attract middle- and high-school students, said Shavati Karki-Pearl, founding director of the Nevada County Tech Connection, an organization under the umbrella of the county’s Economic Resource Council. Both organizations will be co-hosting the STEAM Expo with the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools.

“Every company has come up with unique, hands-on projects that kids can play with and interact with,” said Karki-Pearl. The founding director of the Nevada County Tech Connection and director of engagement for Autometrix said there will be demonstrations of lasers and augmented reality by Autometrix and Augmntr, respectively.

“(The Economic Resource Council) has given up funding to rent a whole different building” to host the companies, and to have a robotics competition as well as a petting zoo, said Karki-Pearl.

California Solar Electric Company has been trying to recruit Nevada County youth. So when the company was asked to be included in this year’s fourth annual STEAM Expo, it eagerly joined.

“I feel like it’s such a crucial thing to have really high skilled jobs that are local in order to keep young people here,” said Akim Aginsky, marketing manager at the solar company.

Recruiting young people to work in Nevada County, however, has been difficult, according to the director of the Nevada County Tech Connection.

“Many students don’t know there are good jobs here for graduating seniors,” said Karki-Pearl.

Several local companies, including Cranmer Engineering, AJA Video Systems and Telestream will be attending the event. It is their hope to inform students about the prospect of carving out a stable vocation in Nevada County.

“If we’re not supporting the youth, and giving youth great options for employment, it’s not going to look good for this county,” said Aginsky.

Since 2011, the company has run an internship program in hopes of employing young residents. Oliver Bach began interning with the company during his junior year at Bitney Prep High School, said Aginsky. Now, he works for them. California Solar Electric Company is trying to repeat the process with a current student intern.

Contact Sam Corey at 530-477-4219 or at scorey@theunion.com.

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