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Governor’s STEM Scholars Learn from NJ Industry

On Saturday, February 25, 2023, the 2023 class of Governor’s STEM Scholars gathered at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) for the STEM in Industry conference. Joined by professionals from across the Garden State, the 126 Scholars learned about career opportunities in the private sector.



Atam P. Dhawan, Ph.D, Senior Vice Provost for Research at NJIT and a Board member of the R&D Council of New Jersey, kicked off the day’s event with an overview of all that NJIT has to offer. He was followed by fellow R&D Council Board member Robert Cohen who serves as the President of Digital, Robotics, and Enabling Technology at Stryker and Chair of the Board of Trustees of NJIT. Robert shared with the Scholars about innovative careers in the medical device industry.





Mahako Etta, Program Officer, New Jersey Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology led a panel conversation about entrepreneurship with burgeoning business owners from across New Jersey including Mildre Castillo, Founder of Healing Eve, LLC; Kwaku Jyamfi, CEO and President of Farm to Flame Energy; Yidian Liu, Co-founder and Chief Operations Officer of PolyGone Systems; and Chang Yaramothu, Ph.D., Chief Technology Officer of OculoMotor Technologies. Scholars learned about the challenges and rewards of starting a STEM business from the ground up.


Kathy Naasz, Ed.D., Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at the New Jersey Innovation Institute inspired the Scholars with a keynote address sharing her own story of forcing herself out of her comfort zone in order to gain the job of her dreams.



After lunch, Scholars were joined by Jieyun Hao and Kelly Krueger, both from the human resources department of Merck & Co., who taught the Scholars how to network, an important skill as they each prepared for the afternoon’s highlight: STEM Speed Networking.


Throughout the afternoon, Scholars connected with numerous industry professionals to learn about the professionals’ career paths, research, personal motivations, and more.


During STEM Speed Networking, the Scholars met with James D. Adams, P.E. of K.S. Engineers, P.C.; Raman Bahulekar, Ph.D. of Avantor; Jennifer Baxter, Ph.D., of Merck & Co.; Parisa Bazil of Commvault; Celon Blair of Panasonic North America; Jennifer Boada-Rodriguez of Colgate-Palmolive Co.; Robert Cohen of Stryker; Mario Derevjani of Colgate-Palmolive Co.; Alex Hernandez of Medtronic; Prashanti Koti of Commvault; Tatiana Ospina and Michael Pozapalidis of Panasonic Connect North America; Abhishek Ramchandran of Siemens; Jose Rivas of Spencer Savings Bank; Julia Schoenewald of Johnson & Johnson; Lady Solano of Spencer Savings Bank; John Szilagyi, Ph.D., DABT of Bristol Myers Squibb; Daya Verma, Ph.D. of Novartis; and Sergio Zurita of Panasonic Connect North America.


Scholars ended the conference with a tour of NJIT’s Makerspace, the largest Makerspace in New Jersey, which uses cutting-edge industrial technology.


The Conference provided the Scholars with a solid grounding of STEM opportunities in private industry across New Jersey. As a location with more scientists and engineers per square mile than anywhere else in the world, if the Scholars were going to pick a place to pursue a career in STEM, New Jersey is where it is at.


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