GEM convened its annual meeting, the 2021 GEM Board of Directors Meeting and National Conference, at the JW Marriott Houston by The Galleria in Houston, Texas from September 9-11, 2021. The conference was a 45th anniversary celebration of GEM’s achievements toward its mission to drive global innovation and competitive advantage in the United States STEM workforce. The workshops, seminars, and sessions were related to educating and preparing engineering and scientific talent for leadership careers, particularly among historically underrepresented ethnic groups. The 2021 national conference attendance doubled in size from previous years
The 2021 GEM Leadership Awards Gala honored leaders among industry, academic, and alumni communities. The Gala opened with welcome remarks from Dr. Felicia Benton-Johnson of Georgia Tech, who also served as the GEM Gala Chair. Conference attendees were also greeted by the GEM Board Chair, Tim Archer, with Lam Research. Award recipients included Lashawn Boulware of Lockheed Martin & Company; Dr. Jorge Leis of Bain & Company; Dr. Farnam Jahanian, President of Carnegie Mellon University; and Dr. Thomas Zacharia, Laboratory Director at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
IBM served as the lead sponsor of the 2021 GEM Leadership Awards Gala Dinner and Reception as well as the entire conference. 3M Company, Adobe, Carnegie Mellon University, Chevron, Hess Corporation, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Rice University were all Gala Dinner table sponsors.
Prior to the Gala, consortium members gathered for a Pre-Gala Networking Reception, sponsored by Colgate-Palmolive, which fostered connection and reconnection of GEM Fellows, GEM Alums, and GEM Representatives. As an established occurrence at the Gala, there was a Text-to-Pledge and pledge card tally announcement with the proceeds to benefit the GEM Fellowship program. Following the Gala, attendees networked at a Gala After Party, sponsored by GEM Employer member, Adobe.
The 2021 GEM Leadership Awards Gala honored leaders among industry, academic, and alumni communities. The Gala opened with welcome remarks from The National GEM Getting Ready for Advanced Degrees Laboratory (GRAD Lab), sponsored by Rice University, exposes underrepresented undergraduates to the benefits of graduate school, including how to successfully apply and gain admission, as well as best practices on funding a graduate degree. The GRAD Labs culminated with a panel session with a diverse community of speakers offering practical and personal accounts of their graduate research and career experiences.
The Friday breakfast plenary session, sponsored by 3M Company, was comprised of a panel of 3M’s Executive leadership team and was moderated by GEM’s Chief Executive Officer, Brennon Marcano. At this opening plenary, a 9-minute video tribute showcased GEM and its history of excellence throughout the past 45 years.
The Friday lunch plenary session was sponsored by Carnegie Mellon University and The Aerospace Corporation and featured a panel of space experts from The Aerospace Corporation and NASA and was moderated by the amazing Lesia L. Crumpton-Young, president of Texas Southern University and GEM Alum. Panelists reviewed movie clips of sci-fi scenes and opined on what was fiction, reality and close to reality.
GEM hosted a graduate, post-doc and employer fair, sponsored by Rice University, which offered undergraduate and graduate students an opportunity to interact directly with University and Employer representatives to discuss graduate degree and post-doc opportunities. Over 60 GEM University and GEM Employer members were present to engage with the GEM Fellows and GEM Alumni.
Initially developed to showcase the technical and research assignments of prospective and current GEM Fellows during their summer internships and research experiences, the Technical Presentation Competition (TPC) has expanded to showcase all students’ skills in conducting research, performing technical writing, and delivering an oral presentation. The 2021 Technical Presentation Competition was sponsored by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
The 2021 winners by category, as announced at the awards ceremony are:
The Technical Poster Session encompassed presentations of undergraduate, graduate, and GEM Fellows internship-based research to a panel of judges. This event was sponsored by Lam Research. The winner of the 2021 Technical Poster Session is Vanessa Awate, a PhD student in aerospace engineering at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. Vanessa’s Employer Sponsor is MIT Lincoln Laboratory.
GEM’s 45th Anniversary Celebration sponsored by Amazon and held at the House of Blues brought together GEM Alumni, GEM Fellows, and GEM Representatives for networking, laughter, dancing, and dining. Every five years, GEM has an upscaled event to celebrate our mission of Advancing Scientific Impact through our GEM Alumni, GEM Fellows, and the entire GEM community networks. The 45th Anniversary did not disappoint. We had a hilarious comedian, great DJ, and a fantastic event for the entire GEM family to enjoy. If you missed this conference, don’t worry because the 50th Anniversary Celebration is just five years away. So, mark your calendar for early September!