Transition STEM: A Wounded Warriors Think Tank

On July 27-28, 2011, the University of Missouri-Kansas City Institute for Human Development and School of Computing and Engineering hosted Transition STEM: A Wounded Warriors Think Tank. This event was financially supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF). This 1 ½ day event brought together 80 individuals with professional and/or personal expertise in supporting veterans in post-secondary education and transition to careers (38% of participants have military experience and 18% are Wounded Warriors).

The goal of Transition STEM was to produce a collective response to transition issues facing Wounded Warriors and identify recommendations for improved supports, policy, and funding.

I serve as project director for KC-BANCS and as such became project director for Transition STEM. I wrote the bulk of the supplemental funding grant, determined the agenda, found the speakers, served as lead writer on all projects, and designed the graphics/branding. It is tricky, though, to showcase one’s work when in reality work is teamwork and Transition STEM was a team effort. It definitely would not have been successful with the talented coordination, information management, and web design capabilities of Melissa Messina. Recognition to the principal investigator, Ronda Jenson, and the co-principal investigator, Kevin Truman, for their leadership;  a thank you for the teamwork of Jodi Arnold and Arden Day who kept the think tank going.

Veterans are returning from deployment with military training, experience with sophisticated technology, and often field engineering experience. The military has invested monetary resources in their training and veterans often have field-based accomplishments which should provide a smooth transition into science, technology, engineering, and math-based fields (STEM) upon their return from deployment. Veterans with service-connected disabilities (Wounded Warriors) often have the background and experience to transition into STEM fields for post-military employment. However, the Wounded Warriors and post-secondary education do not uniformly understand how and when to connect the experiences from the military with a future STEM career. When the veteran has incurred a disability related to military experiences there are even more barriers to this transition. NSF recognized this disconnect and funded Transition STEM: A Wounded Warriors Think Tank to identify solutions.

Slide show about the community conversation process

Short video by UMKC Communications about the think tank