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USF System to Host Tampa Bay STEM Summit Addressing Growing STEM Skills Gap and Workforce Needs

TAMPA, Fla. (March 23, 2016) – The University of South Florida System will host a STEM Summit, featuring a variety of esteemed panelists, from 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 30 at the Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS) in downtown Tampa.

STEM careers are among the most rapidly growing, highly demanded and highly paid professions. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, there will be an expected 1.2 million STEM jobs available in the United States by 2018. However, having the skilled workforce to fill the abundance of available jobs remains a challenge.

In an effort to help address this challenge, USF, USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota-Manatee will bring together experts in science and technology, along with leaders in education, business and industry for a thoughtful discussion on the translation of STEM education, research and innovation into well-paying STEM jobs for graduates.

The USF System STEM Summit is the product of more than a year’s worth of work and research by the USF System STEM Collaborative, a task force made up of representatives from the USF System institutions in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota. The strategic initiative is intended to leverage the USF System’s position as a leader in STEM education and research while better serving Florida’s STEM workforce needs and further developing Tampa as a STEM hub.

“Providing high-quality programs that align degree offerings and workforce needs are key in ensuring that our students graduate well prepared and are ready to compete successfully in the global workforce.” said USF System Provost and Executive Vice President Ralph Wilcox.

Kicking off the Summit is keynote speaker Dr. James Wynne from the IBM Watson Research Center in New York and a courtesy professor in the USF Institute for Advanced Discovery & Innovation. Wynne’s research and innovation with modern lasers became the foundation for LASIK eye surgery. Wynne will discuss his current STEM outreach and the role of business and education partnerships in filling the STEM pipeline.

Following the networking lunch, a panel discussion will focus on the challenges and solutions in preparing the next generation’s STEM workforce. Panelists will be Marshall Criser III, Chancellor State University System of Florida, Mindy Grossman, CEO & Director, HSN, Inc., Rick Homans, President & CEO, Tampa Bay Partnership, Brian Lamb, President & CEO, Fifth Third Bank (North Florida) and Vice Chair of the USF Board of Trustees, and USF student and Udall Scholarship Recipient Steffanie Munguia

“Universities are making great strides to close the talent gap in Florida by educating students on what jobs are available and providing the skills training that enables them to transition successfully into the workforce,” said Chancellor Criser, State University System Chancellor. “By focusing on STEM and other high-wage, high-demand areas, the State University System is strengthening its position as a key propeller of Florida’s economy.”

Attendees will also have the opportunity to experience the talent of tomorrow’s STEM workforce during a poster competition featuring the current research and innovation of students from across the USF System and state colleges.

The STEM Summit also supports a statewide effort to increase university connections in business through Think Florida: A Higher Degree for Business, a State University System initiative designed to build synergies with the business community.

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