STEAM Education

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

aimWest Panel Event

Date: Wednesday, April 22, 2015
5:00 pm – Registration
5:30 pm – Networking
6:00 pm – Presentation
7:00 pm – After-party
Location: GVSU Eberhard Center (Map)
301 Fulton St W, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Parking: Free Event Parking is available at the GVSU “Pew Center Event Parking Lot”. Enter lot from W. Fulton street under the 131 highway bridge. (Google Maps) (GVSU Map, D7)
After-party: Also at Eberhard Center (Cash-only bar)



Click here to register for this event.


Event Summary

STEAM Education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math Education) has become a major topic of discussion and planning across the country over the last several years.

What is the status of STEAM Education in West Michigan?
What are we doing to improve awareness?
What are the resources that are available?

Come hear from our panelists who are passionate about increasing STEAM Education Awareness in West Michigan on April 22 at GVSU Eberhard Center.



Jarrad Grandy
Director of Career Readiness, Kent ISD

Jarrad earned his Master’s in General Education with an emphasis on Educational Leadership from Grand Valley State University and a Bachelor of Arts with a major in History and minor in Political Science from Michigan State University.
He served as the Chairman of the Career Education Planning District Council, which represents the regional administrators responsible for career readiness throughout the state of Michigan for K-12 students.
He is currently the Director of Career Readiness at Kent Intermediate School District in Grand Rapids and winner of the International Association for STEM Leaders-District Leader Award.


Paul D. Plotkowski, Ph.D.
Dean of the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing at Grand Valley State University

Paul Plotkowski is the founding Dean of the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing at Grand Valley State University where he has served since 1991. The Padnos College enrolls over 2,000 students in a variety B.S. and M.S. degree programs in engineering, computer science, information systems, occupational safety and health management, and medical & bio-informatics.
All of the undergraduate programs in the Padnos College require either internships (CS, IS and OSH programs) or co-operative education (Engineering programs). His duties include nearly daily interaction with a wide variety of industries.

Within the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), Dr. Plotkowski has served on the Engineering Dean’s Council and co-founded the Undergraduate Experience Committee, held several positions on the Cooperative and Experiential Education Division (CEED) Board, and on the North Central Section Board. He has served as an international vice president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). His other activities include serving as an accreditation visitor for mechanical and manufacturing engineering degree programs for the Accreditation Board for Engineering & Technology (ABET). He is very active in the FIRST
Robotics competition and many other K-12 STEM education enrichment programs.

Dr. Plotkowski is a Fellow of ASME and has received numerous awards including the Dedicated Service Award from ASME, the Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer of the Year award from SME and the Outstanding Educator award from Pi Tau Sigma and most recently the Alva K. Borman Award for Contributions to the Philosophy and Practice of Cooperative Education from ASEE. He holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering, and a Ph.D. in Systems Engineering from Oakland University.


Kirk Riley
Executive Director ITEC (Information Technology Empowerment Center)

Kirk Riley is Executive Director of the Information Technology Empowerment Center. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Michigan State and worked for twelve years in environmental engineering at Michigan State and six years in university outreach.

Kirk’s long-standing passion for educational reform and building opportunity for underprivileged youth has fueled ITEC’s programs in robotics, game design, digital media and computer programming for middle school students, and math tutoring for 4th-6th graders. Since 2008, more than 2,000 K‐12 students students have moved towards science, math and technology classes and careers. In support of ITEC’s mission, Kirk is a member of the Executive Committee of “Keep Learning,” a coalition of education, business and government partners committed to doubling the number of college graduates in Mid-Michigan; the Lansing School District’s Magnet School Advisory Committee; and Lansing Community College’s Coalition for College Readiness.


Kim Dabbs
Executive Director, West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology (

Kim Dabbs is a social entrepreneur, advocate and innovator who currently serves as executive director of the West Michigan Center for Arts + Technology. Kim has crafted a best practice model for both adult career training and teen arts + tech engagement, leading to WMCAT’s inclusion in national learning networks like The Aspen Institute’s ASCEND Network and Stanford University’s K-12 lab. Kim was one of 4 professionals globally that were invited to participate in a 3-month residency at Stanford’s in design thinking.

Kim holds a Master of Public Administration, Nonprofit Management from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Science in Art History from Kendall College of Art and Design. An educational highlight was spent in a three-month residency at Stanford University in design thinking in 2015. She presents nationally on social innovation and design thinking, and has authored pieces on design thinking and arts education for Edutopia and Americans for the Arts.

She is a gubernatorial appointee to the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, sits on the leadership council for the Extended Learning Opportunities Network and is a member of the Diversity and Inclusion Council for Varnum Law. She was honored as one of the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan by the Grand Rapids Business Journal, and has received numerous awards including a Joyce Fellowship from Americans for the Arts.


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