On March 7th, the Southern Piedmont Technology Council’s Innovation STARS Awards Banquet partnered with the two day Southern Virginia STEM-H Summit at IALR to promote the extraordinary achievements of our region’s educational and industrial leaders. An address by NASA astronaut Leland Melvin punctuated both events.

A former wide receiver for the Detroit Lions, Leland Melvin is an engineer and NASA astronaut who helped build part of the International Space Station, worked at NASA Langley Research and as head of NASA Education, and helped develop the nation’s 5-year STEM education plan.  Melvin was also on the recent TV series Child Genius and BattleBots.

The STEM-H Summit began the festivities with approximately 360 students and educators participating from 8 school districts and 4 private schools. The 13 student workshops were pre-selected to maximize exposure for a student exploring interest in a particular STEM-H field, while the 17 educators’ workshops introduced useful STEM-H tools to take back to their classrooms. On the first day, the students’ exploratory sessions covered fields from coding to nursing to drones to engineering and more, while educators were treated to two panel discussions and workshops in robotics, nurse simulations, avatars and others on the second day. 

With 200 of the area’s most influential in attendance for Wednesday evening’s Awards Banquet, SPTC recognized the Tech Council’s 20 years of advocating the importance of investing in technological fields in both the public and private sectors to meet the adapting demands of economic development in the region.

The Innovation STARS Awards highlighted area industries who go above and beyond to promote the Southern Piedmont Technology Council’s mission to advance technology in the region. The Southern Virginia STEM-H Education & Industry Achievement Awards highlighted innovation and dedication to STEM-H education in our region.

Congratulations to all the educational and industrial Innovation STARS Award and STEM-H Education & Industry Achievement Award winners! Their work is inspiring and motivating the next generation.

left to right: Jill Collins, Tommie Evans, Jacob Taylor, Joan Hendrix (STEM-H Educator of the Year Award Recipient), Ashley Cox, Joel Bunn (Community Champion for STEM-H Education Award Recipient), Phyllis Meade (Innovative STEM-H Program of the Year for Henry County Public Schools STEM Program)

left to right: Anthony Putorek (Microsoft Data Center), Edison Hudson (Panaceutics), Leland Melvin, Samantha Smith-Herndon (Institute for Advanced Learning and Research), Anna Crawley (Noblis), and Troy Simpson (Danville Community College)



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