College Heights student honored at Missouri STEM event

Nathan Hardy (center) signs a letter of intent to study mechanical engineering at the University of Missouri. Joining him (back row, from left) are chief of staff Marty Oetting, Provost Latha Ramchand and President Mun Choi, all of the UM System; and (front row, from left) Zora Mulligan, commissioner of the Missouri Department of Higher Education, and Daniel P. Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry.COURTESY | MISSOURI CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY

A College Heights Christian School senior was one of 10 Missouri students recognized this month at the first STEM Signing Day, an event hosted in Jefferson City by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry to promote growth in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Nathaniel Hardy, who will graduate this weekend, signed a letter of intent with the University of Missouri, where he plans to study mechanical engineering.

"My dream job would be an astronaut," he said. "I think going to space would be really cool. Even working on rockets that could take other people to space would be great."

Inspired by signing days for athletes, STEM Signing Day honored 10 high school seniors who will receive $1,000 scholarships as they pursue a STEM field in college this fall. The program is a new workforce development and career awareness effort of the Missouri chamber.

“Our society does a great job of celebrating student athletes," said Daniel P. Mehan, Missouri chamber president and CEO, in a statement. "We think our high school STEM stars deserve the same recognition as their athlete peers. These 10 high school graduates represent the best and brightest that Missouri has to offer, and we are proud to recognize them for choosing to pour their talent and passion into STEM career pathways.”

The event was hosted in partnership with the Boeing Co. and the Missouri Department of Higher Education.

“At Boeing, we see firsthand the endless opportunities available to those with a STEM-focused skill set,” said John Frederick, the company's director of state and local government relations, in a statement. “It is our honor to recognize Missouri students committed to pursuing a career in STEM. The opportunity that follows them through their career will surely benefit Boeing and all Missourians alike.”

State education officials said STEM careers are a driving force of Missouri's economy.

"Choosing STEM will give these students the skills and knowledge to fill a needed gap here at home and prepare them to compete in a global marketplace," said Zora Mulligan, Missouri's higher education commissioner, in a statement.

Hardy said STEM subjects are his favorite in school because of their structure.

"For me, it's easier to grasp" than other subjects, he said. "We use logic to find stuff that we don't know."

The remaining nine STEM Signing Day students plan to attend a variety of colleges and universities, primarily located in Missouri, and study fields such as electrical engineering, molecular biology, digital forensics, chemical informatics, immunology and aviation flight technology.

About the program

Sponsored by the Boeing Co. and the Missouri business community, the new STEM Signing Day program offers $1,000 scholarships to a minimum of 10 students to help them pursue their STEM education goals at a two-year, four-year or technical college of their choice. The funds are unrestricted to be used for tuition, living expenses, books or technology.

Emily Younker is the assistant metro editor at the Joplin Globe. Contact: eyounker AT joplinglobe DOT com.

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