STEM Woman Leader of the Day- Nancy Conrad (Conrad Foundation)
Submitted by Tommy Cornelis on September 5, 2012
Nancy Conrad is the Founder and Chairman of the Conrad Foundation. She created the Foundation in 2008 to energize and engage students in science and technology through unique entrepreneurial opportunities. The organization’s flagship program, the Spirit of Innovation Challenge, is a global competition challenging students to combine education, innovation and entrepreneurship to create products that address real-world challenges and global sustainability. By enabling young minds to connect education, innovation and entrepreneurship, the Foundation helps provide a bold platform for enriching the innovative workforce of the future.
Why do you believe STEM Education and Workforce are important to our nation?
We must embrace the power of collaboration. No one program or system is going to be the right or best solution for all participants. Time and again we discover every child, educator and community has different needs and goals. Through collaboration and reciprocal endorsement, we reach greater numbers and achieve unprecedented success.
What about STEM gives you passion?
The hallmark of America’s culture is innovation and entrepreneurship. It’s how we got to the Moon. It’s how companies like Apple, Facebook and Google were formed. It is how our country will continue to explore the universe, discover cures for disease and become good stewards of the world we share with our global neighbors. The sciences are the tools we need to achieve these goals. Providing young people with the skills to use these tools is a necessity to be successful in our pursuits.
Of what one initiative you are most proud?
In the five years since the inception of the Spirit of Innovation Challenge, we have engaged students in 42 states and more than10 countries. Through virtual collaboration, there are teams comprised of students from different locations around the U.S. which we consider a perfect example of 21st century education. In fact, we have reached in excess of 17,000 students with our outreach efforts and engagement in our online community and more than 200 STEM educators from year to year. The Conrad Foundation supported the conceptualization of more than 350 new products and innovations, and more than 20 percent of conceptualized products and innovations are in development.
How is your company innovating to promote STEM?
The Spirit of Innovation Challenge is where smart kids become rock stars! Our annual competition challenges high school students worldwide to use science, technology, engineering and math skills to develop commercially viable products while addressing global/local challenges and sustainability. The flagship program of the Conrad Foundation, the Spirit of Innovation Challenge creates incentivized learning opportunities for students and teachers as they unify their classroom knowledge with innovation and entrepreneurship.
Which woman leader do you most admire, and why.
Hillary Clinton is a woman I greatly admire. She is a rock star wife, visionary leader, a global game changer, caring mother, and influential diplomat. For me, she is representative of all that is admirable in women: keen mind, good heart, passion and graciousness.