May 31, 2013

King Wilkes Closes 2012-2013 Stem Lecture Series

Special Topics in Engineering and STEM Education are Focus of Lecture

(COLUMBIA, Tenn. - April 1, 2013) - - - Careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics are challenging and rewarding, yet there seems to be a shortage of people qualified for STEM jobs.

On Wednesday, April 10 at 3:30 p.m. in the Ledbetter Auditorium, Columbia State Community College welcomes Bethany King Wilkes, Ph.D., director of school engagement for the Midwest region at Project Lead the Way, a rigorous and innovative STEM education program directed at middle and high school students. King Wilkes plans to discuss special topics in engineering and the career opportunities available in STEM fields.

"We need more American students in engineering and other STEM fields," King Wilkes said. "I want to provide some advice to those students in STEM education."

King Wilkes currently travels the states of Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, where she educates school districts about the PLTW program and how to engage students and prepare them for the global economy. She believes that a support structure is important to student success.

"I take it seriously about encouraging students," King Wilkes said. "It's challenging, but you can do it. Once these students have the education, there are so many opportunities available," she said.

PLTW is the leading provider of STEM curriculum across the nation. The hands-on, project-based program was designed to engage students and expose them to areas of study they would not otherwise pursue. With PLTW's comprehensive curriculum, students receive a foundation and proven path to college and career success.

The PLTW program was designed by teachers, university educators, engineering and biomedical professionals, and school administrators to promote critical thinking, creativity, innovation and real-world problem solving skills in students. More than 4,700 schools across the nation offer PLTW's curriculum. There are 60 schools in Tennessee alone that offer the program, including Spring Hill High School.

King Wilkes holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Memphis, a Master of Engineering Management from Christian Brothers University, and a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Tennessee State University. She has worked for Oklahoma State University and CBU, as well as FedEx as a practicing engineer.

At the time of the lecture, King Wilkes will be an education consultant for the career technical education division of the Tennessee Department of Education, where she will manage STEM initiatives in secondary education across the state of Tennessee.

The lecture is free and open to the public as a part of the STEM department's annual lecture series. The Ledbetter Auditorium is in the Frank G. Clement building on the Columbia campus at 1665 Hampshire Pike.

Columbia State is a two-year college, serving a nine-county area in southern Middle Tennessee with locations in Columbia, Franklin, Lawrenceburg, Lewisburg and Clifton. As Tennessee's first community college, Columbia State is committed to increasing access and enhancing diversity at all five campuses. Columbia State is a member of the Tennessee Board of Regents, the sixth largest higher education system in the nation. For more information, please visit