August 2019 Newsletter

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 Building Omaha’s Future Leaders

August 2019

Celebrating STEM in Omaha

A STEM Professional You Should Know!

Stephan Grot

Stephan Grot, Executive Director of the creative center KANEKO, credits his unique and fulfilling career path to his simultaneous passions for STEM and art. As a child, he loved multiple mediums of art—especially drawing, sculpture, painting and glasswork. Casual exposure to STEM, such as watching natural science documentaries with his dad, made Grot comfortable with scientific ideas and helped him understand how creativity worked alongside science. Grot later accepted an offer to pilot what would become Creighton University’s graphic design major as the only student in the program. Post-graduation, he connected with renowned ceramic artist Jun Kaneko, putting his tech background to use in a creative setting. Grot worked as Kaneko’s digital assistant and built the artist’s website, which includes an online archive of his work. After running his own graphic design business and designing custom software solutions for a few years, Kaneko asked Grot to be Executive Director of KANEKO, the non-profit creative center he founded with his wife Ree in 1998. KANEKO aims to make creativity accessible for all members of the Omaha community and inspire all to find a creative outlet through art exhibitions, performance art, lectures or workshops. From exhibits about virtual reality to lectures by science professionals, the organization has always been concerned with bridging the gap between art and STEM through their programming, which makes Grot an ideal candidate for the Executive Director position. Along with his work at KANEKO, Grot enjoys spending time with his family, drawing, bike riding and completing construction projects on his home. For more information about KANEKO and their events and exhibitions, visit

Professional Development Committee Update 

Members of the Professional Development Committee reflect various sectors of our community, including educators (formal and informal), business, non-profits and science centers. They have been hosting Community Conversations around prioritizing the critical skills that both education and business agree are essential for success in STEM professions. The committee has been working on developing solutions to bridge the gap between business and education and to utilize the best practices for partnerships between business and education. The next Community Conversation on Bridging the Gap in the STEM Workforce will take place on Tuesday, August 27 from 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm at Gallup (Great Plains Room, 1001 Gallup Drive, Omaha, NE 68102). To RSVP, please email Julie Sigmon at


Kids Can Community Center Summer Camps Update

Kids Can Community Center is a nonprofit organization with a mission to educate, engage and inspire children through early childhood care and out-of-school programs. They have shared some awesome photos of their STEM-related summer programming with us on social media! Activities include a walking water science experiment where water appears to defy gravity and water rockets at the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum. To learn more about their programs, visit their website or Facebook page.


Dream It Do It Update

Dream It Do It (DIDI) is a community partnership between business, non-profits, and education whose mission is to fill the skills gap in manufacturing and industry. A statewide initiative with nationwide research, DIDI helps guide students toward pursuing opportunities in these unfulfilled careers by providing assistance in finding internships, scholarships, apprenticeships, job shadowing and much more. John Fonda, Executive Director of the Omaha Area DIDI, noted that there was a disconnect between business and education, so DIDI is refining the Student Journey that assigns the tasks suggested for career exploration and developing an interest in a specific career for pre-school to post-college students. 

For further information on DIDI and how they can help you, contact John Fonda at 402- 457-3801 or



2018 Annual Report Update 

The OSE’s 2018 Annual Report is here! Read about the highlights and accomplishments of the OSE at



Mark Your Calendars!

Bridging the Gap in Omaha’s STEM Workforce Development: A Community Conversation: August 27 from 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm

Let’s continue the conversation among business and education professionals to identify the next action steps to strengthen the mechanisms for developing critical STEM employment skills in students and employees. As with our last community conversation, this one will be highly engaging and participatory. We value your input! Please join us at Gallup (Great Plains Room, 1001 Gallup Drive, Omaha, NE 68102). To RSVP, please email Julie Sigmon at


Math with Biomechanics: September 17 from 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm

In this awesome partnership with the UNO Mathematics Department and the OSE, come visit the Biomechanics Research Building at UNO to explore how mathematics helps scientists understand how the human body moves!  Biomechanics is the study of the forces that act on the body and the effects they produce. At this event, you will get to tour our state-of-the-art research laboratories that explore human movement, virtual reality, machining and prototyping, prosthetic design and animal movement. Register here.


Omaha STEM Ecosystem Fall Summit: October 3 from 7:30 am – 4:00 pm

Interested in learning more about internships offered in the Omaha area? Save the date for the OSE’s Fall Summit at the UNO Thompson Alumni Center. The summit will consist of networking opportunities, speakers and breakout sessions to explore all that Omaha has to offer for high school and post-secondary internships, externships and mentoring. Be on the lookout for more details about the event and how to RSVP in the coming weeks. 



2019 Congressional App Challenge: August 1 – October 15 

The Congressional App Challenge is a national coding competition that provides youth an opportunity to explore the exciting field of STEM. Contestants develop a unique software application or “app” for a mobile, web or other computer-based platform. Winners will be invited to attend the annual House-of-Code award ceremony and STEM convention held in Washington, D.C. and possibly receive other prizes. Create either a team or individual account on the App Challenge website and indicate your Member of Congress on the registration form provided. Students must register and submit their completed apps and a short video demonstration by October 15, 2019. 

Contact Makenzie Cartwright at 402-938-0300 or with questions. To register for the competition, visit the App Challenge website


World O! Water: September 7 from 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm

World O! Water presents a great opportunity to learn about the importance of water conservation from experts in the field. Through numerous hands-on educational activities and demonstrations, participants will become more aware of how they can affect the quality, availability and sustainability of local water resources right now and in the future. In addition, there will be arts and crafts, educational materials and discussions regarding water conservation, quality and recreation. Free trees are available for the first 275 families.  Lunch will be provided on a first come, first serve basis, while supplies last. Some of the planned activities include:

  • Canoe rides
  • Rock wall climbing
  • Live music
  • Face painting
  • Nature hikes
  • Water safety and life jacket fitting
  • Live animals (owls, reptiles and more)

The event will take place at Chalco Hills Recreation Area (8901 South 154th Street, Omaha, NE 68138) and is free for all participants.


UNO STEM TRAIL Center Launch Day: September 20

The UNO STEM TRAIL (Teaching, Research, and Inquiry-Based Learning) Center is UNO’s newest STEM center that seeks to actively engage youth in STEM activities. Friday, September 20 is the official launch day of the center. Join us for presentations, workshops, and demonstrations of resources and opportunities provided by the STEM TRAIL Center! 


Wow! That’s Engineering Workshop: October 12 from 8:30 am – 3:00 pm

Save the date for a great event encouraging girls to pursue careers in engineering and technology! The workshop will be at UNO’s PKI Institute and is for students ranging from third to twelfth grade. The day will include activities related to mechanical, civil, chemical and systems engineering. To learn more about the event as it approaches, go to


Stay tuned for our September newsletter!

We want you to be a part of the conversation about how to find solutions for addressing the shortfall of STEM professionals in the Omaha community. To collaborate with innovators, educators, researchers and leaders of tomorrow, join the Omaha STEM Ecosystem today at

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