Lehigh Valley High School Students Strengthening STEM Skills this Summer

Lehigh Valley High School Students Strengthening STEM Skills this Summer
July 24 Trip to AT&T’s Global Network Operations Center among activities

One hundred juniors and seniors from high schools in the Lehigh Valley and beyond are spending part of their summer vacation boosting their science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, skills at the Lehigh University Summer Engineering Institute (SEI).

As part of the program, on July 24, students will visit AT&T’s Global Network Operations Center (GNOC) in Bedminster, NJ, to learn more about the global company and the importance of strong STEM skills. The GNOC is one of the world’s largest and most sophisticated network operations centers. From here, AT&T monitors and proactively manages global video, data and voice traffic network activity, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

State Representative Ryan Mackenzie will join the students on the trip.

Following the GNOC tour, students will hear from AT&T employees in STEM careers.

SEI is a cooperative living and learning environment; the 50 participants in each of SEI’s two, two-week sessions are encouraged to work in teams to solve complex problems in the classroom and in the laboratory, making use of sophisticated technology and facilities available at Lehigh University.

The program began in 2014 as the Pennsylvania Governor's School for Technology, at the time relying on State funding, as well as corporate support from AT&T and others. When Governor’s School funding was removed from the State’s budget in 2016, AT&T led the external supporters continuing to provide for the program. AT&T contributed $20,000 to support SEI this year.

2017 was a year of retooling, during which SEI engaged the leadership of Lehigh’s College of Education to re-focus itself as an opportunity to connect high-performing students from underrepresented groups with the challenge and thrill of STEM in a cooperative, team-based environment.

Dr. Stephen P. DeWeerth, Professor and Dean, P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science at Lehigh, said that the program now empowers educators across the region to select students that would truly make the most of the opportunity. Districts that participate in Lehigh University’s School Study Council (LUSSC)—a consortium of approximately 40 districts across the Lehigh Valley region and beyond—identified a number of students for each SEI session based upon each district’s reported student population.

According to DeWeerth, districts were asked to find students for SEI who are academically capable and personally responsible enough to handle a two-week stay on a college campus. Those students may come from a background considered ‘underrepresented’ in STEM fields, or be among the first generation in their family to consider collegiate studies. But most of all, DeWeerth said, the right students for SEI willingly and enthusiastically engage in labs, classrooms, and field trips, learning alongside a dedicated staff of college-aged mentors as well as participating faculty members.

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