STEM Forward’s $2,000 High School Scholarship Awarded to Benjamin Hermann

Congratulations to Benjamin Hermann of Pius XI Catholic High School for earning STEM Forward’s $2,000 scholarship.

Benjamin Hermann recently participated in STEM Forward's Rube Goldberg Machine Contest at Waukesha Area Technical College. His machine had a restaurant theme.

Benjamin Hermann recently participated in STEM Forward's Rube Goldberg Machine Contest at Waukesha Area Technical College. His machine had a restaurant theme.

Benjamin, a Franklin resident, was one of 29 highly qualified high school seniors residing in southeastern Wisconsin who applied for our scholarship this year to pursue a degree in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Benjamin will attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison this fall to study engineering.

“My inspiration to pursue a STEM job, specifically engineering, started with my involvement in the Future City Competition,” he said. “Since then, my interest has continued to grow.”

In addition to STEM Forward’s Future City Competition, Benjamin has participated in the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest for three seasons, and served as co-captain when the team took home first place in the National Competition. He’s taken four years of challenging Project Lead The Way courses and earned college credits, and has participated in MSOE’s software engineering summer camp, Woodland Conference math competition and countless extra-curricular activities.

With all of these activities, Benjamin still finds time to work. He has experience working as a contracting assistant for Luettegen Contracting, as a stocker for Pick n' Save and as a home cleaner/organizer for the nonprofit organization, Project Pals.

“Ben demonstrates what it means to be a well-rounded student who is committed to school and service and balances his responsibilities accordingly,” said Catherine Zurawski, STEM Department Chair and Rube Goldberg teacher at Pius XI Catholic High School. “He demonstrates a high level of maturity and responsibility.”

Benjamin will be honored at STEM Forward’s 12th Annual Golf Outing Scholarship & Program Fundraiser at Morningstar Golfers Club on Aug. 17, 2017.

Attend the ceremony, enjoy a day on the golf course and help us support more scholarships for students pursuing a degree in STEM. Register here.

Meet Brittany Scaglione: STEM Forward’s Scholarship Winner of 2014

Brittany Scaglione is passionate about engineering. It started when she was a toddler.

“My mom hid my pacifier in the top drawer of my dresser when I was about two years old,” she said. “Instead of sitting there and crying, I stacked my Lego boxes on my chair and climbed up to retrieve it.”

Brittany’s fascination for problem-solving was encouraged by her parents and led her to participate in several science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities growing up, including summer Lego and robotics camps. The fact that her school offered STEM courses through Project Lead the Way further accelerated both her interest in STEM, knowledge of engineering concepts and exposure to a wide array of STEM careers available.

She’s participated in STEM Forward’s Wisconsin Regional Rube Goldberg Machine Contests as a student at Pius XI Catholic High School, and later served as a team captain and volunteer.

STEM Forward's Rube Goldberg Machine Contests put engineering at the forefront, while encouraging critical-thinking and problem-solving in a non-traditional learning environment.

“I loved participating in the Rube Goldberg Machine Contests because it helped me learn the design process of engineering as well as troubleshooting techniques to ensure that it properly runs and operates the way it’s supposed to,” Brittany said.

Her favorite was when her team designed a Miller Park-themed machine that hammered a nail in 20 or more steps, complete with racing sausages, a jumbotron, the national anthem, a (root) beer keg, and of course, Bernie Brewer, who went down the slide after a home run was hit. The biggest design challenge was creating it so it could be easily taken down and reassembled when moving it.

“Brittany’s passion for engineering and STEM was highly apparent through her leadership of the Rube Goldberg Machine Contests at Pius XI Catholic High School,” said Cathy Zurawski, Rube Goldberg team advisor and teacher at Pius XI Catholic High School. “She inspires and encourages all students to pursue higher education and careers in STEM fields.”

Brittany’s commitment to pursuing a STEM career, strong academic performance, and participation in STEM Forward programming earned her a $2,000 scholarship from STEM Forward in 2014.

Today, Brittany is a Marquette University senior, majoring in biomedical engineering. Although she’s busy with classes and a co-op through the Medical College of Wisconsin, Brittany is committed to inspiring others pursue a STEM career, especially girls.

Every Tuesday evening, she volunteers for Marquette’s Girls Who Code Club, helping fifth grade to high school students learn how to code, build websites and troubleshoot them.

“Making a difference in students’ lives and encouraging other young women to enhance their STEM skills is something I take pride in,” she said. “The girls involved in the Girls Who Code Club gain so much knowledge before entering college, which builds their confidence and exposes them to various types of careers that they may have never considered before, or even knew that they existed.”

Most recently, she served as a special awards judge at STEM Forward’s Wisconsin Regional Rube Goldberg Machine Contest for high school students on March 3, 2017.

For young women interested in pursuing an engineering career, Brittany advises them to get involved, follow their dreams and not to give up.

“Play with Legos and don’t follow the instructions,” she said. “Join an engineering or math club. Get your hands dirty. Make things, dismantle things and fix things.”

Know a high school senior in southeastern Wisconsin pursing a STEM career? Have him or her apply for STEM Forward's $2,000 scholarship!

MPS & community partners hope "Hidden Figures" will inspire students

By Bobby Tanzilo /

Have you seen "Hidden Figures" yet?

This film shares the previously untold of three African-American women – brilliant mathematicians who were key to NASA’s launch of John Glenn into orbit in 1962.

The Oscar-nominated film has been getting great reviews, and the first person to recommend it to me is a Milwaukee Public Schools principal, who sees the manifold importance of the film.

One of the important lessons of the movie is the kind of encouragement it can offer to all students, but especially girls interested in science, technology, engineering and math (aka STEM) subjects.

With that in mind, the Milwaukee Public Schools Foundation is partnering with Beta Alpha Boulé of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Marcus Theatres and Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, to send 10,000 MPS students and Boys & Girls Club members to see the film.

But some money is still required to make this happen, and the Foundation and its partners are appealing to the community for financial support to raise another $53,000 to fund the trips, including reduced-price tickets, transportation and educational materials to continue the discussion and study in the classroom before and after seeing "Hidden Figures."

Beta Alpha Boulé of the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, a fraternal organization comprising prominent African-American community leaders, has already collected more than $52,000 for this program. Marcus Theatres has pledged $50,000 in generous in-kind support, the Milwaukee Public Schools Foundation Board of Directors has pledged $10,000 and MPS employees have chipped in more than $2,200 in personal donations.

"So many young people simply do not see career opportunities for themselves, especially in math and the sciences," said Cory Nettles, founder and managing director of Generation Growth Capital, Inc., and a member of Beta Alpha Boulé of the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

"Students are inspired when they can see what others have done and can envision themselves following in those footsteps. The first step on a career path is a vision."

MPS has made a strong commitment to STEM offerings across the district, says Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver.

"MPS is already a leader in STEM education," said Dr. Driver. "We have the largest Project Lead The Way footprint of any urban district in the country. We are excited and appreciative of the community support we have received so far – we want students to see that STEM careers are real options regardless of gender or race."

To make a contribution, visit the MPS Foundation website.

Milwaukee Biz Blog: Investment in STEM education could pay off for Wisconsin

This past summer, a Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) survey reported 70 percent of top business executives in Wisconsin expressed difficulty in finding quality workers. This has been a persistent trend in their recent economic outlook surveys, and has fueled a larger debate over whether the Badger State is held back by a “skills gap,” where open jobs go unfilled because the labor force lacks the necessary qualifications.