Ohio University

STEM Entrepreneurship Forum inspires high school students to innovate

Students listen to Jay Edwards at the event

Facial recognition for insects was among the innovations Ohio University researchers highlighted the need for in a recent event sponsored on Athens campus by Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs and Believe in Ohio.

The STEM and Entrepreneurship Innovation Forum, a program of Believe in Ohio, held Nov. 18, was designed to open high school students’ eyes to the future, inspire them to think outside the box and provide them with the opportunity to interact and learn from OHIO faculty, staff and current Bobcats.

Students present solutions to problems posed today during an innovation exercise
Students present solutions to problems posed during an innovation exercise.

A free program developed by the Ohio Academy of Science and Entrepreneurial Engagement Ohio, the STEM and Entrepreneurship Innovation Forum promoted a culture of innovation among Ohio’s high school students and encouraged them to prepare for jobs in Ohio’s innovative economy.

“What today’s students will experience during their lifetimes is simply unimaginable. Their world will be marked by constant change,” said John Klipfell, co-director of Believe in Ohio, during introductory remarks. “Every product, service and aspect of life will change again and again. Technology is dramatically changing the world you will live in.”

The forum featured three lectures. “You Are an Entrepreneur” showed students that it’s never too early to start their own businesses as Paul Benedict, associate director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, presented stories of former students who are now successful entrepreneurs.

Kelly Johnson, associate professor of biological sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences, talked about her work at the intersection of entomology and ecology in “Small Things Matter: Restoring Invertebrate Biodiversity to Polluted Streams.” Johnson urged the high school students to create a facial recognition technology for bugs, similar to the ones used in phone, so she could save $150-300 in four to six hours of counting specimens in a water sample, showing how innovative technology affects all kinds of fields. 

Ohio State Representative Jay Edwards awarded at the event for his contributions
Ohio State Representative Jay Edwards (L) awarded at the event by Michael Woytek, Believe in Ohio Co-Director

Jeff Kuhn, an instructional designer and expert in immersive media and gamification in learning, teaches courses in augmented reality, level design and virtual reality in the McClure School of Emerging Communication Technologies. During his lecture “More than Code: Opportunities in Virtual Reality,” Kuhn talked about different kinds of interactive media resources used by Ohio University students majoring in game design and participating the university’s esports team.

Additionally, at the event, Ohio State Rep. Jay Edwards was awarded the 2019 STEM and Entrepreneurship Champion Award for sponsoring legislation that provided $2 million to support Believe in Ohio. 

Sponsored by the Voinovich School, the STEM Entrepreneurship and Innovation Forum is a part of Kids on Campus, a multisite afterschool enrichment program for children in grades K-12, with a focus on those who face socioeconomic and/or academic challenges.