Dean Natacha DePaola spoke at the Rotary Club of Chicago Panel Discussion this past Tuesday, February 20, 2018, on the importance of STEM Education to the Chicago Area Economy as part of the Engineering Week celebration. The event's keynote speaker was U.S. Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08). Also on the panel were Fred Hoch, Executive Chairman of the Illinois Technology Association and founder of TechNexus for the, and John Yonan, Superintendent, Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways. The entire panel was moderated by Eric Cempel, Programs Chair for the Rotary Club of Chicago, Vice President of the Chicago Engineers' Foundation of the Union League Club, and Infrastructure Planning Manager at Chicago Union Station.
Congressmen Krishnamoorthi, who also holds a mechanical engineering undergraduate degree and at one time owned an engineering firm, expressed the importance of STEM in education and the growing need of STEM related jobs in the United States. Over six million STEM related jobs go unfulfilled annually because employers cannot find qualified individuals.
Dean DePaola expressed the importance of experential learning in a student's education, as well as interaction with industry. Hoch and Yonan both agreed that civic and industry engagement is highly important throughout one's academic journey, and that more interaction between academia, community, and industry needs to occur.