Gig 'em! Texas A&M inspires next generation of STEM students

Chair Hughs with TXSEF Officials

For the competitors, it all began as nothing more than an idea, a concept, a dream. Next came the challenging and arduous process of pushing the boundaries of science to turn those ideas into reality. No matter the reason they took that first step, the results were spectacular and on display at the 2019 Texas Science and Engineering Fair (TXSEF) hosted by Texas A&M University. 2019 marked the first year that Texas A&M University hosted the event and on March 30th students arrived in College Station to vie for top prizes in 22 project categories. These future engineers and scientists of Texas presented their work to judges and showcased their commitment to improving the world around them through innovation.

“Texas is a leader in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and thanks to the over 1,400 Texas middle and high school students who competed in the 18th Annual Science Fair at Texas A&M University, the future looks bright,” said TWC Chair Ruth R. Hughs. “These students will enter into an increasingly competitive job market with the applied skills in STEM disciplines that are highly coveted by Texas employers. It is important that the state continues to support the next generation by offering them opportunities like the TXSEF where they are provided an amazing platform to demonstrate their tremendous talents.”

The projects on display at the event were a reminder of our scientific evolution. There were no erupting volcanoes or bubbling, smoking beakers from a chemistry set. This is the new, modern science fair where helmets control robotic hands, engines are rebuilt to be more efficient, and where you’ll meet students who decided to act when they saw family members with disabilities struggling to do something as simple as visit relatives.

Madison Burke and Anushka Aggarwai, first place winners in the Junior Division for Systems Software, saw the struggles their family members with disabilities were having with everyday travel and developed software to address this. Their program helps people with disabilities travel safer and more efficiently. Young students with a passion and talent for STEM saw a need and acted.

“This event was a tremendous celebration of innovation and we were proud to welcome these young students to Texas A&M University to showcase their creativity,” said Dr. M. Katherine Banks, Texas A&M Engineering vice chancellor and dean. “Participation at the state-level competition is a significant accomplishment and speaks volumes about the support these students have received from their teachers and schools.”

“The Texas Science and Engineering Fair offers a great opportunity for the youth of Texas to learn more about science and engineering, which can lead to future career choices in these areas,” said Truman Bell, chairman of the TXSEF Advisory Board and manager of community relations for ExxonMobil Corporation. “ExxonMobil is pleased to support this effort which will inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.”

There is a shortage of students pursuing careers in STEM, and while this trend continues to be addressed, on a cold and overcast day in College Station the future of Texas looked positively radiant. Texas, its labor force, and the labor force of the world, is going to have a highly intelligent and enthusiastic group of student leaders entering the workforce with the ideas and passion to shape the future.