Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. visits STEM Summit in Redmond

REDMOND, Wash. — Hundreds of educators, business and community leaders met at Microsoft on Tuesday to work together to make sure Washington students are ready for the future. They gathered for the seventh annual Washington STEM Summit.

They focused on preparing Washington students for the future of work through STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

As the keynote speaker, the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. talked about equity and the importance of opportunity for all students. Jackson also talked about the importance of the arts.

"For the most part it is an opportunities issue, not an intellectual issue, " said Jackson. "If we can begin to shift the culture from the rim to the STEM. We've got to move them to the science, the rhythm, the mathematics of basketball, the geometry of shooting the ball to go into a cylinder to the math science technology engineering arts and math, that's my mission."

Educators and business leaders spoke about the need for career connected learning.

"Think healthcare, tech, advanced manufacturing, aerospace, agriculture, maritime- you name it. We've got it in this state," said Washington STEM CEO Caroline King. "The problem is kids don't know about these careers or don't have the opportunity to prepare for them."

Technology industry leaders spoke about wanting employees with diverse skill sets.

"You're not going to be able to be that unique specialist anymore. Today when we look for people at Boeing, we're looking for people who want to be creative, we're looking for people who want to do the design, do the analysis, want to be able to test things," said Mike Delaney, the VP of digital transformation at Boeing and a chair of Washington STEM.

And while there have been advances in opportunity, equity hasn't been reached.

"The person who has hacked their way to success has truly done that. The person of color, the woman, the whatever, fill in the blank person, who has found their way into success has hacked the system because the system isn't made for them to succeed," said Amelia Ransom with Avalara.

The STEM Summit is hoped to also gain the attention of law makers who will make decisions funding education. Gov. Jay Inslee attended Tuesday's event.

The educators and industry leaders aren't looking at STEM as a subject but as a movement, a way to change the future.

"We should be inspired to do better, and we can if we work it out," said Jackson.

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