Higher ed leaders, stars converge at Next Frontier Conference

The two-day virtual event will give underrepresented students and others a chance to see the opportunities that lie ahead in STEM-related career fields.

Several higher education leaders will join students and techonology luminaries, including SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell, Tuesday and Wednesday at the virtual Base 11 Next Frontier Conference & Expo for a look at the future of emerging industries.

The conference, which will be simulcast to students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and California Community Colleges, will focus on the career paths that will be the “fastest-growing and most financially rewarding for the next 30 years”, specifical preparing women and those from underserved communities for this “next frontier”.

Astronaut Leland Melvin and Thermo Fisher’s Fred Lowery will be among those speaking at the event, which is part of a larger initiative that seeks to prepare 100,000 STEM-focused students, early career adults and entrepreneurs for 21st century industries over the next decade.

“Speaking at the Next Frontier Conference holds a special place in my heart, because this is all about empowering the next generation of leaders, innovators and explorers,” Melvin said. “We’re going to expand their access, awareness and belief by showing these students diverse leaders who look like them and come from backgrounds that might be similar to their own, so that they can actually envision themselves in those careers.”

Five leaders that come from the college and university space will be taking on a topic that directly affects many of them – “The Disruption of Higher Education”. Moderated by George Mason president Greg Washington, the Day 2 session will present the challenges related to COVID-19 that must be overcome to ensure student success. It will include panelists Joseph Castro (president Cal State-Fresno), Eloy Ortiz Oakley (president, California Communities Colleges), Michael Drake (president, University of California) and Gilda Barabino (president, Olin College of Engineering)

One of the signature sessions of the conference put on by Base 11, a nonprofit dedicated to helping the next generation of all students forge Next Frontier careers, is called “Shooting for the Stars: Morgan State and Purdue Dual Aerospace Program”, which will feature Morgan State’s foray into becoming the first HBCUs to launch a liquid-fuel rocketry lab and training program. Morgan State president David Wilson and Purdue president Mitchell Daniels will join Base 11 executive director Ingrid Ellerbe and Al Bunshaft, senior vice president of Dassault Systemes on the panel.

Among the other highlights will be student success stories, several “STEM career playbooks” – including one with SpaceX’s Shotwell – as well as sessions on social justice, gender equity, innovation challenges, the importance of life science and the emerging fintech industry, whose growth is expected to surpass $300 billion in just two years.

The event also features an interactive hall to allow guests to talk with some of the most forward-thinking companies in the world, including Regeneron, Tallo and 3M, as well as those from the education space, including the Society of Women Engineers, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, UCI Beall Applied Innovation and the National College Resource Foundation.

Chris Burt
Chris Burt
Chris is a reporter and associate editor for University Business and District Administration magazines, covering the entirety of higher education and K-12 schools. Prior to coming to LRP, Chris had a distinguished career as a multifaceted editor, designer and reporter for some of the top newspapers and media outlets in the country, including the Palm Beach Post, Sun-Sentinel, Albany Times-Union and The Boston Globe. He is a graduate of Northeastern University.

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