Heartland STEM: Building Workforce Of Tomorrow
by Scott Hochenberg, Office of Naval Research
September 23, 2022
Deep in America’s Heartland, the Office of
Naval Research (ONR) is sponsoring efforts to build a diverse
workforce, promote sustainability and collaborate with the best and
brightest worldwide to solve the grand challenges of 2050.
The Conference on Blue Integrated Partnerships (BIP) and the 2050
Workforce of Tomorrow ... hosted by Purdue University in West
Lafayette, Indiana, July 29-Aug. 1, 2022 ... was an opportunity to
bring together academia, government and industry to discuss
potential climate change-related problems relevant to the mission of
the Navy and Marine Corps.
July 30, 2022 - Participants of the Blue Integrated Partnerships (BIP) Conference, hosted by Purdue University, in West Lafayette, Indiana. Attendees included students ranging from high school to graduate level; professors from universities such as Purdue, the University of Texas at El Paso and the University of Puerto Rico; and federal workers from the Department of Homeland Security. (U.S. Navy photo by Michael Walls)
Understanding climate shifts and
patterns is vital to the Navy’s global operations and the safety of
ships at sea. In addition, the Navy wants to better understand the
changing environment in the Arctic Ocean, where melting sea ice is
opening the region to expanded maritime and naval activity. Of
particular concern are rising sea surface temperatures, waves, tides
and currents, and how they affect naval capabilities and
The Conference on Blue Integrated Partnerships
(BIP) and the 2050 Workforce of Tomorrow aligned with the Navy and
Marine Corps Climate Action 2030 plan, which sets the Department of
the Navy on a path to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by
2050, while becoming a more capable, agile and lethal fighting
Additionally, the Conference on BIP and the 2050
Workforce focused on increasing the diversity and talent pool of
STEM (science, technology, education and math), because the
innovation needed to fight climate change will require leveraging
the talents of a broad spectrum of people.
Scholars from the six-week BIP Summer Institute for Climate Change
and Sustainability also participated in the conference. Ranging from
high school to graduate students, the scholars worked in research
clusters to tackle the BIP-targeted challenges of sustainability,
health and security.
Including this diverse group of
students in this conference ensured the next generation of
scientific researchers are learning about potential career
opportunities supporting the Navy or the Department of Defense.
“ONR was proud to sponsor the Conference on Blue Integrated
Partnerships and the 2050 Workforce of Tomorrow, because it aligns
with our priorities to increase the diversity of our STEM
workforce,” said Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Lorin Selby. “A
diverse team representing all of our country’s incredible talents is
essential for the security of the United States.”
One of the
event’s sponsors echoed those sentiments.
“The BIP Summer
Institute and Conference was a unique opportunity to connect with a
broad spectrum of students, educators, industry and government
leaders, and I would recommend anyone interested in building the
best future science and technology workforce to attend in the
future,” said Dr. Thomas Fu, head of ONR’s Mission Capable,
Persistent and Survivable Naval Platforms Department.
According to Dr. Luciano Castillo, director of the conference and
institute, and the Kenninger Professor of Renewable Energy at Purdue
“Addressing social inequality and engaging the
untapped talent in our communities, while solving problems related
to climate change, health challenges and security, are major goals
of this consortium. By increasing the diversity of the STEM
workforce, we will accelerate new innovations that will propel a
strong economy — specifically in underrepresented communities.”
The BIP Summer Institute Conference was broken into the
Day one celebrated the achievements of
the BIP Summer Institute Fellows. It addressed how to educate
and engage the “Year of 2050” workforce on solving pressing big
problems — particularly under potential extreme climate
Day two focused on sustainable
aviation and key challenges facing this industry. It also
discussed aviation and defense contracting opportunities in the
U.S. commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Day three focused on matching
businesses with historically black colleges and
universities/minority institutions (HBCUs/MIs) and
minority-owned companies to create an inclusive pipeline, propel
innovations and create opportunities and economic growth.
Day four highlighted
sustainability and coastal resiliency, as well as topics related
to carbon capture.
Those attending the BIP Summer Conference
were able to:
Meet with potential investors and
top federal government leaders and agencies, such as the
Department of the Defense, NASA, Department of Education,
Department of Energy and Department of Homeland Security.
Recruit diverse STEM talent.
Learn about current advances in
sustainability, research and opportunities to build partnerships
with HBCUs/MIs, and how to conduct federal contracting with
Integrated Partnerships for more information.
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