STEM programs have risen in schools across America in the past decade. Careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are now in high demand to find applicants. That is why the STEMIE Coalition came to be; to educate students on not only the STEM program but Invention and Entrepreneurship as well.
Father and son duo, Danny and Nick Briere, started the STEMIE Coalition after being involved in the Connecticut Invention Convention, a three-decade-old program, for over 10 years. Together, when approached by longtime donors of CIC, UTC and Stanley Black & Decker they were challenged to do an assessment of the success of a National program. Danny Briere focused on the opportunity of Invention Education growth in the educational ecosystem, while Nick Briere focused on the corporate and foundation support that would be needed to grow.
In the fall of 2015, after 600+ invention education programs were identified nationally, 15 statewide programs were asked to sit on the first NICEE steering committee to host the first National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Expo at the USPTO office in Alexandria Virginia. Over 200 students attended; 15 states were represented and The STEMIE Coalition was off and running.
How It Works
STEM programs are of all ages and educational levels, so why was it so important to add invention and entrepreneurship into the program? Danny Briere says “STEM skills are important but without the application are falling short of what we as a nation intended when we set out to compete in a global market. If we have entire companies of people who understand various sciences but don’t know how to identify new avenues for application, then we stand still with more understanding of what we currently have. If we teach our generation to look for “what if” AND we train them in the ways to do it effectively, we’ll become stronger and faster together and be made up of a nation of makers and problem solvers.”
When young children are asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?” not many immediately think of an inventor or entrepreneur, but Briere is wanting to change that. By focusing STEMIE in K-12 schools, he believes that all children should want to pursue competitions or outside programs in the STEM field, not just children who are “good” at it. Briere explains further that “rather than kids who are told they are good at science participating in programs such robotics, coding, science fair, invention convention, etc., we want EVERY student to participate in invention convention and learn that they are in good practice at the application of STEM. With that confidence in hand then they can go explore STEM skills and use them in prototyping and in how they want to solve problems, a skill they’ve already learned how to implement and apply.”
Right now the STEMIE Coalition has 35 affiliates, 25 state programs, and a conservative estimate of 100,000 students that finished the Invention Convention program and created a prototype as of last year. In 5 years? Briere would like to see STEMIE in over 10 countries and all 50 states. “We anticipate having over 500,000 students prototyping annually, if not closer to 1 million. We hope to have more than 20,000 teachers nationwide actively including invention education into their school day and after-school programs.”
At the end of the day, education is so important in a child’s life. It shapes them to be the best possible person they can be and if they find a passion at a young age, then they could do anything they put their minds to. The one thing that is the most rewarding part of STEMIE according to Briere? “The kids. The kids that come out of our program are enthusiastic, confident, world changers, problem empathizers, they will and are already changing their world. They are not apathetic, they are determined and impatient, hardworking and inquisitive.”
STEMIE and Make48 have the same type of mission and spirit of each company. In the end, inventing is for everyone, it can be easy if you put your imagination to work. Briere believes we all can change the status quo by making something new; innovation, makers, and inventors are valued and it’s a skill that we should talk more about as everyone, at every age needs to be able to figure it out.
Find more information about the STEMIE Coalition here.