Eric Mead, father of five is also an active Boy Scout troop leader, soccer, basketball and baseball coach as well as a strong supporter of 4-H. Knowing that there are insufficient opportunities for young students to explore STEM—science, technology, engineering and math—he finds extra time in his very busy schedule to help youth discover ways for real world application of these concepts and skills.
Mead is involved in Shocker MINDSTORMS; a LEGO robotics competition for middle school children. The competition draws approximately 350 students every year. And with Mead’s help, remains free to all participants. Many schools are underfunded and simply cannot afford to purchase needed resources and do not have sufficient time in the school day to add to their curriculum. As a member of the steering committee, he and his colleagues are responsible for securing funding and planning the event, so Mead works with companies and private donors to secure funds that allow for STEM expansion into after school programs.
Since Mead’s involvement in the Shocker MINDSTORMS competition, participation has increased from 18 teams representing 175 students to 36 teams representing 380 students. And financial support has almost doubled. The courses built for the competition began though volunteer coordination but has evolved to a for-credit college course that includes workshops, designs, budgets and project planning.
Mead also serves as a judge at the annual Project Lead the Way Engineering Design and Development competition, a nonprofit organization that develops STEM curricula for use by elementary, middle and high schools. These competitions host activities that encourage students to build machines out of recycled or readily available materials.
Eric Mead has been a strong advocate of STEM education and a champion for the effort to obtain a balance in gender, race and socio-economic status among students to make STEM programs accessible to all.