Nearly two dozen middle school and high school students from Pike, Ross and Jackson counties participated in a free, two-day Internet of Things: Student STEM Workshop at the Ohio University Chillicothe campus on Aug. 14 and 15.

The program was hosted by the Ohio University Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs with funding from the American Electric Power Foundation Supporting Renewable Energy Research and STEM Education in Rural Appalachian Ohio Program and the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management PORTSfuture program.

To emphasize the growing role of “smart” technologies in everyday life, the program offered hands-on learning to ignite students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers. Participants learned about circuits, computers, engineering design, coding, and energy sources, and then applied their new knowledge to hands-on activities such as programming a drone and a weather station.

“With the growth of technology comes the responsibility to focus on sustainability, better communication, more efficient systems, and on-demand services to solve complex environmental problems creating a more sustainable world. This workshop focuses on both innovative technology and renewable energy,” Jen Bowman, Voinovich School director of environmental programs, said.

Guest speaker Zane Simon, an electrical engineer at the Bionetics Corporation and Ohio University alumnus, discussed how embedded chips, sensors or tiny processors attached to an object allows helpful information about the object — such as cost, age, temperature, color, pressure or humidity — to be transmitted over the internet.

"We were excited to be able to provide this opportunity to local youth to learn about STEM careers of the future. We hope this encourages them to pursue STEM educational and experiential opportunities that can inform their future career pursuits," Stephanie Howe, PORTSfuture program director, said.

Simon said the workforce of the future will be an IoT and digital-savvy workforce. New job roles for IoT will be in demand, such as cloud architect, cybersecurity specialist, data scientist, mobile application developer, electronic engineer and network programmer.

One of the attendees, Kayden from Pike County, agreed that coding is important, “because you can get multiple jobs if you learn coding as a basic skill early in your life.”

For more information about the Internet of Things STEM curriculum, visit https://www.portsfuture.com/internet-of-things/

The PORTSfuture program is funded by a grant from the US Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office.

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