When Great Minds in STEM chose the theme for its 32nd Annual Conference, “Every Challenge, Every Frontier,” it was meant as a tribute to our award winners who have overcome obstacles during their pursuit of advances in Science and Technology. However, 2020 had other ideas, as all of us have experienced in one form or another.
The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has presented challenges like few of us have ever endured. Long-festering issues like racial injustice have also resurfaced this year, forcing us to examine some of our basic beliefs and straining some of our most fundamental institutions. And so, the theme became not only a rallying cry to tackle the once-in-a-generation obstacles that 2020 has laid before us, but a reminder that we as a country have overcome every challenge we have ever faced and done so by pursuing every frontier we have set our sights on. Nowhere is this truer than in our pursuits of the frontiers of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.
Inspired and encouraged by the resilience of our students to achieve academic excellence and be outstanding leaders in their community, as well as our class of stellar honorees, our first virtual conference took place over a two-week period between September 28 and October 9, 2020, and was a resounding success. More than 2,400 individuals took part in 10 days of virtual competitions, seminars, coaching sessions, networking opportunities, award shows and an engaging and dynamic virtual career fair. To achieve this, GMiS created a new conference portal and integrated a variety of existing technology platforms – all of which experienced 0% downtime in conference activities.
GMiS continued its tradition of honoring merit-based STEM scholars, and we awarded $239,896 in scholarships to 104 deserving scholars, bringing our total funds distributed to over $5M; total individuals awarded to more than 1,700 college students. Our 2020 class of 54 professional award winners was led by 3 incredible role models: Engineer of the Year, Jesse A. Ortega, Architectural Chief Engineer from General Motors, (pictured top left); Albert V. Baez Award Winner, CAPT Mercedes Benitez McCrary, Dr HS, MS-CC-SLP, Captain, United States Public Health Service, Commissioned Corps – 13th Chief Professional Officer (2016 MAR 2020) Therapy Rehabilitation, (pictured bottom); and Scientist of the Year Alfonso Fernandez Davila, Ph.D., Research Scientist Exobiology Branch, NASA Ames Research Center (pictured top right).
GMiS is proud to continue to support the STEM Career Pathways of our underrepresented and underserved communities in their quest to push technical boundaries, innovate toward new horizons, and advance diversity and inclusion. We were gratified to again bring together so many diverse brilliant minds who are dedicated to solving today’s technical challenges at the forefront of the 4th Technological Revolution. We look forward to our 33rd Annual Conference, scheduled for October 20 – 23, 2020 in Pasadena, CA.
For information on GMiS programs, scholarships, the GMiS conference and our professional awards please visit our website at www.greatmindsinstem.org.