Q: What is your name and current job title?
A: David Minning, engineering group head II, Corporate Product Lifecycle Management, Computer Aided Design Applications.
Q: When did you first learn of Richmond Hill Middle School’s STEM program?
A: I learned of the STEM initiatives at RHMS in early 2013 from the late Arvid “Chip” Eckwall. He was loved by the students and staff and had tremendous passion surrounding STEM and inspired me to collaborate with him on some of the projects that are being implemented in the school today. In fact, his wife, Mary Eckwall was very adamant that his vision for STEM be carried on.
Q: Why is a program like this so important today?
A: STEM-based jobs are in high demand. The technical positions in across industries rely on many of the core subjects that can be found in a STEM curriculum.
Q: What makes this program stand out from others in the school system?
A: STEM takes many subjects ties them together into activities that make the students understand the subjects’ application in the real world.
Q: What role do you/Gulfstream play in the STEM program?
A: While I have no official role in the RHMS STEM program through Gulfstream, the company and its community investment department are supportive of my activities at the local schools. Examples include the career fairs that we have regularly attended at Carver Elementary and Richmond Hill High School. Over the course of the last year, I have been working closely with John Melcher, a key RHMS STEM teacher, as a mentor for activities such as the Rocketry Challenge and 3-D Computer Aided Design (CAD) implementation.
Q: How do you feel this will impact the future of these students?
A: My hope is that it inspires them and stirs their imaginations in these fields. I went through a similar “awakening” as a middle school student when I was exposed to drafting and metal-shop classes, and I see the same thing happening in STEM programs today.
Q: How does the STEM program challenge the students of RHMS?
A: I believe the students enjoy the project-based challenges that are a big part of the STEM activities. The hands-on component really brings the project to life.