National Science Board Recognizes Walsh University at Science and Technology Summit

NSB Says Walsh is Leading the Nation on New and Innovative Ways to Foster Workforce Development in STEM Fields

Walsh University, recently recognized by the National Science Board as a leader in workforce development and innovation, hosted its 2022 Science and Technology Summit on November 16. The sold-out event was centered around the theme of Enhancing the Quality of Life Through the Advancement of the Sciences and drew more than 300 education administrators, government officials, economic development professionals, and business leaders from as far as South Korea, who attended a luncheon and networking event and were addressed by nationally recognized keynote speakers from the National Science Board and Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab. Also, in attendance at the day’s events were 200 science students from 12 area high schools as far as Columbus, who engaged in interactive science activities showcasing Walsh University’s science programs, and included the Pittcon Planetarium and hands-on learning projects from guest presenters from NASA.

National Science Board member Dr. Steven Leath delivered welcoming remarks following a pre-recorded message from Dr. Victor McCrary, Vice Chair, National Science Board. Both Dr. Leath and Dr. McCrary congratulated Walsh University for being at the center of the national discussion and taking the lead on answering the call of the Board’s Vision 2030 Report which challenged higher education to foster new and innovative approaches to meet the needs of businesses and provide relevant education and training programs that would prepare our workforce to be globally competitive and promote prosperity and national security. The speakers each commended Walsh University for building new and innovative models, like the Skilled Technical Workforce program, whereby academia, businesses and government work together in a collaborative effort to prepare our workforce to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

The University’s Skilled Technical Workforce program was recently recognized by a proclamation from Lt. Governor Jon Husted and called by State Representative Jon Cross a “perfect example of how Ohio’s TechCred Program was intended to work.”  TechCred is a state initiative whereby businesses are reimbursed for tuition invested in employees to upskill them in science and technology-based skills.  As an education provider, Walsh has enrolled more than 60 companies in the program and issued over 875 credentials to date.

 “Walsh University is an innovative, creative and courageous university setting the example and leading the rest of the nation in fostering careers in STEM,” said Dr. Leath.  “When I think about the next generation, and worry whether they will be able to meet the needs and challenges for society in terms of quality of life, inventions and pushing our industries forward, I come to Walsh, I meet the students and see how engaged they are, and how the university collaborates with community partners, and I feel good about the future.”

Dr. Jason Kalirai, Astrophysicist, Space Exploration Sector Mission Area Executive for Civil Space, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, delivered the keynote titled, Science and Technology Enabling Space Exploration, which addressed how when we dream big and push the boundaries of science and technology with ambitious projects like exploring space and looking for other life in the universe, we create new business opportunities in the private sector that require advances in education and training for our workforce.

“Are we alone in the universe? We have the ability to answer that question with this generation,” said Dr. Kalirai. “A lot of the technologies that we’re going to need to achieve this do not yet exist.  We need the best and the brightest to be passionate about science, technology, engineering and math.  We need them to get involved and continuously push the envelope, to ask more questions, and motivate and inspire industry and businesses to make investments into those technologies in order for us to be successful.”

Dr. McCrary of the NSB also acknowledged the success of the Center for Scientific Excellence Laboratory. The laboratory was established in 2021 after Walsh University was awarded a highly selective SPARQ (Shimadzu Partnership Academics, Research and Quality of Life) grant from Shimadzu Scientific Instruments (SSI), one of the world’s largest and most well-respected manufacturers of high-end scientific equipment.

Walsh University has fostered ongoing relationships with the community so that the instruments acquired through the SPARQ grant can be a resource for businesses in need of chemical, elemental and material analysis. These collaborations have provided real-world application and learning opportunities for Walsh students and new internship and co-op programs.  The Center for Scientific Excellence Laboratory has been so successful that the University announced that it has been awarded a second SPARQ grant and is in conversations with their Shimadzu partners to finalize the details of the award.

Also honored at the event was 2019 Walsh University alumnae Olivia Sirpilla, Ph.D. candidate, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP), whose courageous story inspired the audience. She shared how her experience at Walsh and the mentorship of the science faculty, particularly Dr. Adam Underwood, led her to the Mayo Clinic, where she is now doing ground-breaking research in molecular pharmacology and experimental therapeutics.

“We were joined by a large number of luminaries from science and business. I think it’s important to bring them together, to share ideas, and more importantly to ignite our students and bring them a sense of energy around the sciences,” said Walsh University Chairman of the Board of Directors A.J. Hyland.” “For Walsh in particular, I think it’s important for us to have these conversations to continue to advance the sciences in our own region.”

“Here we are in North Canton, Ohio, and at the center of a national conversation, committed to ensuring that America remains economically strong, now, and for decades to come,” said Walsh University President Tim Collins.  “We understand that starts right here in our local community and how important it is to prepare our students with the skills they need to outcompete any nation in research, innovation and manufacturing. We are honored to be recognized as a leader in this important national discussion and determined to continue doing all we can to contribute to the advancement of science and technology in our workforce. We appreciate that all good things happen in partnerships. We are grateful to be at the table with incredible collaborators in government, business, industry and other educational institutions. What makes Walsh so special is that we are not only focused on the advancement of the sciences, but we are investing in educating a workforce grounded in ethics and a sense of humanity, a workforce that understands they do this for a greater purpose, to enhance the quality of life for those they serve throughout their careers as they fulfill their life’s purpose.”

View event photos here.