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County's High Schoolers Swarm BCC To Learn About STEM Jobs
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
12:35PM / Friday, November 16, 2012
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More than 400 students attended the 6th annual STEM Career Fair at BCC.

Students were able to meet with more than 30 county employers.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Students from every county high school got a chance on Friday to see what science career paths are available right here in the Berkshires.

The sixth annual STEM Career Fair saw nearly 500 high school students browse displays from 32 exhibitors at Berkshire Community College. The event is put on by the statewide STEM Pipeline Network and is intended to show students possible career paths in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

"There are some really great STEM jobs here in the county," organizer Julie Hannum said as students swarmed the display booths Friday morning. "You may decide to go away to college but you can come back here and be gainfully employed."

That message was reiterated by keynote speaker state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing of Pittsfield. STEM fields have been a growing emphasis of the state and federal government in recent years and with that, the career fair has been gaining in excitement.

"This year, I've felt more of a buzz nationally and locally," Hannum said.

That buzz led to this first time that all of the county's public high schools have sent students to the fair. A total of 440 students were registered and the STEM Pipeline paid for all of the travel. The first year of the fair saw only eight or nine high schools attend, Hannum said.

Many of the exhibitors had hands-on displays to show the students.
"It's a huge deal that the high schools are recognizing the importance of this," Hannum said. "The funding stream supports all of the student's transportation here."

The students were able to browse an array of future employers, from the city's engineering department to SABIC Innovative Plastics to the Army.

Hannum said this year, there seemed to be an additional push on the environmental side with organizations such as the Housatonic Valley Association, Holiday Brooke Farm Community Supported Agriculture, Covanta Energy Corp. and the Center for EcoTechnology.

The STEM Pipeline here is led by Berkshire Community College and  Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in alignment with the Berkshire Compact. The Berkshire pipeline is one of six groups statewide administering state funds toward projects such as internships, job fairs and science fairs.

The fair was headed this year by BCC staff members Charlie Kaminski, Judith Monachina and John Cornamn, who "got the ball rolling," Hannum said.
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