We want to inspire you and other kids to want those jobs and to want to study hard enough to go beyond the possibilities they think they have. —Stan Lockhart, chairman of the Prosperity 2020 STEM Education Initiative
WEST VALLEY CITY — Utah business leaders gathered at the Neil Armstrong Academy on Thursday to kick off a media campaign aimed at encouraging students to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM.
The campaign, "STEM Utah: Curiosity Unleashed," consists of a series of television commercials and advertisements for newspaper, radio and Internet platforms and so far has raised more than $2 million from the private sector.
Speaking to a group of fifth- and sixth-grade students at Neil Armstrong Academy, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert remarked on the technological advancements made in his lifetime and told the students they would play a role in unlocking even greater possibilities.
"It’s amazing what we can do today with the new technology," Herbert said. "And who knows what the future will bring? You guys are going to come up with stuff that we haven’t even thought of today."
The governor also spoke about the role of education in preparing today's youth to be tomorrow's engineers, scientists and technicians.
"You are the future," he said. "We want to make sure you have the skills and that you’re able to go out in what is now a global marketplace and compete with all the other people that want the same job you're applying for."
Thursday's event included remarks by several members of Prosperity 2020, a business-led coalition to increase educational outputs in the state, as well as former Miss Utah and STEM advocate Kara Arnold, and Stan Ellsworth, host of BYUtv's "American Ride."
Ellsworth told the students that STEM education is used in the efforts to make the world a better place. He encouraged the students to use their curiosity, imagination and intelligence to make a difference.
"You guys have the opportunity and a great education to see the world as more than we see it today," he said. "You guys have the future in your hand, and the great state of Utah is going to invest in that opportunity for you."
Stan Lockhart, chairman of the Prosperity 2020 STEM Education Initiative, said the aim of the media campaign is to show off some of the STEM-related careers in Utah that often have trouble finding qualified workers.
"There are thousands of jobs in Utah that are open, that we want to hire people for, and we can’t find them," Lockhart said.
Several videos were shown during the launch event, focusing on specific Utah students who have found success in STEM fields, as well as highlighting the various companies based in Utah with opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
"We want to inspire you and other kids to want those jobs and to want to study hard enough to go beyond the possibilities they think they have," Lockhart told the Neil Armstrong Academy students.