Edina Robotics Hosts STEM Career Night

The FIRST team hosted their annual STEM Career Night, featuring several speakers in the STEM field of work.

Edina High School’s Robotics Team hosted their second annual Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Career Night on Nov. 3. Organized by EHS’s First Team 1816, the event included a panel of STEM professionals for the first part of the night, then a STEM Career Fair for the second part.

The panel consisted of five speakers discussing their work field, and their interests in STEM. The first panelist was Dr. Dominique Seetapun, a biomedical engineer from Miromatrix Medical headquartered in Eden Prairie. Seetapun talked about three research projects going on right now: the Development of Decellularization Technology for whole organ transplants, Cardiac Patron Research and Development for the use reviving dead parts of the heart in patients who have had heart attacks in the past, and the Liver Graft Research and Development for the purpose of liver transplants through decellularization.

“I think the most interesting thing was learning about the biomedical engineering, and how [in the future] we could be able to [perform] full liver transplants,” said EHS junior Phoebe Sanders. All of this research is still in the developmental process, and not yet ready for human experimentation.

The second panelist was Dr. Minna Hovinen from Finland and is now the Senior Staff Engineer and Ellipsometry Team Lead of Seagate Technology. Hovinen spoke more about her past, and how she became apart of the STEM career field. Hovinen originally wanted to become an artist, even winning a an art competition for a trip to Kenya, however, because of a certain chemistry teacher, she followed the path of science instead. At Seagate, Hovinen works with Magnetic Recording Materials Optical Metrology, which means on the development of hard drives.

“Art is science and science is art,” said Hovinen, showing that even though she pursues a STEM career, she is still very involved with her artistic past. “There was a wide range of backgrounds like the artist, and it’s interesting that they all converged into science,” said EHS junior Lily Weigel.

Lisa Brink, Director of Customer Strategy and Insights at Elicit Insights, has another interesting background since her job doesn’t seem like the traditional STEM career. Her career field deals with customer science which is more along the fields of marketing. In her job she uses what is called “big data” to analyze customer behavior and tell her clients what it means and what they should do with it. “I’m like a storyteller of the data,” said Brink. She also believes that her work field has made her a critical thinker and harnesses her curiosity. “I love my job. I wake up every morning [excited] to go to work,” said Brink.

Next up was Matt Mittag, a Reverse Osmosis Product Development Engineer for the Dow Chemical Company. As part of the Dow Water and Process Solutions, he helped create FilmTec which was tubing to help purify water using reverse osmosis. Mittag was also a part of “First” since 2001; first as a student, then a mentor, and then creating a team at another school. Robotics influenced his career choices in the STEM field.

The last speaker was Dr. Yoji Shimizu. He is the Director of the Medical Scientist Training Program (MD/PhD), the Assistant Dean for Graduate Education, and Immunology program leader in the Masonic Cancer Center, but also runs a research laboratory focusing on T cell signaling. Shimizu wanted to pursue a Medical Doctorate, but instead found scientific research more interesting and got a PhD in the research of genetics. Shimizu shares his experience as a professor, saying that it consists of research, teaching, and service.“Research is the intersection of quantitative skills and creativity [which] leads to impactful things that benefit society,” said Shimizu.

EHS students felt like they benefitted from this career night”

After the panel, everyone gathered in the commons for the Career Fair. There was a number of tables set up each with representatives from their respective companies with multitudes of opportunities, all within the STEM umbrella. Some of the companies included 3M, Dow Chemical Company, and the Nerdery.

EHS students felt like they benefitted from this career night, gaining new knowledge and insight in the STEM career field.

“I am more of a math person so it was cool to see STEM jobs that are more math-based than science,” said EHS junior Ivy Blanchett, reflecting on Brink’s career which uses statistics and psychology on a daily basis.

“There was a diversity of pasts for all of the speakers. It was cool how [the panelists] talked about other topics such as marketing and business,” said EHS senior Declan Doperalski.

“Just because you go into a STEM career doesn’t mean you are [limited] to those subjects,” said EHS senior Tommy Densinger. The other way around is true too, just because you don’t have a STEM career doesn’t mean you can’t be interested. “Will.i.am. got interested in robotics, and now has partnerships with First,” said Densinger. Many students were glad they came. “We are in Project Lead the Way classes and was interested in the opportunities in the STEM field,” said EHS sophomores Emma Simmons and Julia Nelson.