Scott Fry is Coordinator of the Mayes County STEM Alliance and Director of Workforce Development for the MidAmerica Industrial Park, located in Oklahoma.
What drew you to work in the STEM education field?
I used to work in the glass manufacturing industry as an electronics specialist. I transitioned into education, working at Oklahoma State University – Institute of Technology (OSUIT), for almost 20 years. We were always looking for ways to create more awareness of technical education and careers in order to recruit more young people into these professions. In 2002, I was selected as the director of the OSUIT campus located at the MidAmerica Industrial Park. The campus was fairly new, and it was imperative that we create initiatives that helped with exposure and awareness. I began a “Lego Engineering” program that became extremely popular and was a great way to connect with young people, educators and parents alike. Things flourished from there.
Tell us about the Mayes County STEM Alliance.
The Mayes County STEM Alliance has sort of naturally formed over the last couple of years as we have been working with our community partners to further expose and increase awareness of technical careers at MidAmerica. Our system has grown through collaboration with five school districts, three post-secondary institutions, as well as our community and business partners. We have all been working to achieve mutually beneficial goals and objectives, and the STEM Alliance is a natural way to engage young people. We have grown significantly over this time with the formation of a county-wide FIRST Robotics Team, development of a UAV program, STEM Labs installed at each of the school districts and more. We have truly been on Fast Forward during the last 24 months.
How is the Alliance benefiting from its involvement in STEM Ecosystems?
We are still very new to the STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative, but we know that our involvement will be invaluable to the growth of our system. Having the connections across the country with other Ecosystems will give us access to expertise and resources we otherwise would not. Read about the BMX Club that is starting because of a connection with the Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative. We have also been working with the Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance, which has helped us in a number of ways to further advance our efforts.
How do you see your programs help solve the employment gap and meet demand for STEM jobs?
The STEM initiatives engage youth and build the skills and talents needed by today’s employers. Our system allows students to experience a variety of technology applications and discover untapped talent and aptitude. We take it to the next step by demonstrating how and where these talents can be used in the modern economy.
Who was a role model for you when you were younger?
My dad. He was a career fireman and the ultimate DIY’er. I was always at his side whether working on cars, motorcycles, building cabinets, wiring houses, etc. This is where I developed my base skill sets and formed a love for hands-on learning.
Learn more about the projects of the Mayes County STEM Alliance.