CEO Leaders in STEM

CEO Leader of the Day, Timmothy Boettcher, RealityworksPublished on June 10, 2016

Lorena Fimbres

Vice President & Chief Business Development Officer at STEMconnector® & Million Women Mentors

(This post is an extract of 100 CEO Leaders in STEM, a publication by STEMconnector. We thank our sponsors: Diversified Search , Tata Consultancy Services, Sodexo and Walmart. We are grateful to our partners: United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and DiversityComm.)

Submitted by Timmothy Boettcher, Realityworks

Why is STEM education/workforce development critical to the future of our nation? STEM education and workforce development are critical to the future of our nation because STEMrelated jobs are vital to our economic strength and global competitiveness. However, STEM education faces a number of roadblocks: more than 50% of the current science and engineering workforce is nearing retirement; increasing numbers of high school graduates lack the knowledge and skills to pursue post-secondary STEM degrees; and enrollment in post-secondary STEM degree programs is down. Workforce development programs that feature collaboration between industry and education can help prepare participants for these vital, in-demand jobs by helping develop gateways to STEM careers, promoting the availability of STEM pathways to young people of all backgrounds and ethnic groups, and working to ensure that STEM programs focus on specific job skill development. Furthermore, programs that recognize STEM’s commonality with career and technical education (CTE) programs, which encompass both job-specific technical skills and rigorous academics, will be even more successful in providing strong foundations for further post-secondary STEM education and helping participants develop the critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, teamwork, creativity and personal accountability that employers in and out of STEM fields need.
What traits do corporate leaders need to effectively support and advance STEM education today? To effectively support and advance STEM education today, corporate leaders need to be willing to use available resources to collaborate with educators and school districts. They need to help ensure that STEM and CTE programs are in place and that those programs are helping participants hone the technical, job-related skills and critical thinking, problem-solving skills they need to seek and succeed in post-secondary STEM education. Mock interviews, business tours, job shadowing opportunities, youth apprenticeships and educator externships are a few ways corporate leaders can give young people hands-on career experiences; they can also collaborate on curriculum development to ensure it meets industry standards and supports community business opportunities, help fund necessary training tools so students’ learning experiences are authentic and take steps to change the image of STEM by publicly promoting the many benefits of these careers.
What counsel would you provide on “collaborating to achieve success” in STEM education and the workforce? Collaboration between industry leaders and CTE and STEM educators is natural; after all, the origins of CTE included apprenticeships and on-the job training opportunities. Although only a small percentage of today’s business leaders partner with educators, such collaboration is vital to ensure that STEM and CTE educational programs are aligned to the opportunities created by industry. The Industry Workforce Needs Coalition (IWNC), which I chair, aims to foster new and improved business and education partnerships to help this happen across the country. Businesses such as Siemens, Hypertherm, PGS and UPS – IWNC founding members – are all examples of businesses that have collaborated with area educators to ensure that local STEM and CTE programs provide industry recognized credentials, feature up-to-date training equipment, and provide internships and other hand-on job training opportunities. Such collaboration also helps engage program participants with the topics they’re studying and inspires them to continue those career exploration pathways. As the U.S. faces declining high school and college graduation rates – in fact, the National Math & Science Initiative reports that although the U.S. led the world in high school and college graduation rates 25 years ago, we have dropped to 20th and 16th place – this engagement becomes an important benefit of industry-education collaboration. To those who wish to get involved and collaborate to achieve success, I recommend starting at the IWNC’s website, iwnc. org, where numerous case studies, research and other resources on establishing such partnerships are readily available. 
What challenges and opportunities do you see in the way we teach technology? Today’s 21st Century students are digital natives, having always lived in the world of technology, and they have come to expect additional technologies to lead them in their education and careers. This fact presents an opportunity for STEM and CTE educators to ensure that the technologies they are incorporating into their programs engage students in meaningful ways. That’s why Realityworks is committed to developing experiential learning products, like the RealCare® Baby infant simulator and the guideWELD® VR welding simulator, that engage students in the learning process and enable them to evaluate and analyze their decisions, understand the consequences of their actions, apply the concepts they’ve learned in the classroom and connect those concepts with real-world understanding. Additionally, simulation experiences of failure or victory help students remember what to do differently or what to replicate. Such technologies can be used to teach real-world job skills and encourage the exploration of potential STEM-related careers – fields that the US Department of Commerce estimates will grow 17% by 2018, nearly double the growth for non-STEM fields.
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About Timmothy Boettcher – Originally recruited in 1998 as a software engineer to design and develop cutting edge technology for new products, Mr. Boettcher assumed leadership for Research and Development and then Engineering before being named President of Realityworks in 2005. Responsible for total operations, he has driven significant understanding of market opportunities, gatekeepers, and funding in education, healthcare, and public service markets; bolstered production and supply chain efficiencies; acquired and launched new age technology; rebuilt leadership competencies; led growth into the Company’s 62% US school system and over 90 country presence; and led the implementation of the Company’s ESOP to build on the societal mission of the Company and further the family oriented culture to reward employees for their success in achieving the mission and efforts to drive growth. Focused on high market growth, he has led the Company’s turnaround and achieved double-digit top line growth simultaneously with dramatic profit and cash flow improvement. For full bio click here. 
About Realityworks – Realityworks, an employee owned company, provides products and services to improve and enhance social, emotional, and physical health by enabling educators to show the probable outcomes of behaviors and choices using experiential learning technologies. Most famous for RealCare® Baby infant simulator (formerly known as Baby Think it Over® or BTIO) they have developed several other programs that address career preparation areas like business management, finance and entrepreneurship, and a RealCareer® Welding Solutions line. With products in 62 percent of U.S. school districts and programs in more than 90 countries around the world, Realityworks customers depend on their innovation and knowledge of the latest technologies to provide the most effective and value-conscious solutions for their needs. Realityworks products are based on the most relevant and valid scientific information available. Realityworks measures their global impact by how many lives are changed in positive ways as a result of their efforts. 
About STEMconnector® – STEMconnector® is a consortium of over 150 companies, associations, academic institutions and government entities actively working to advance STEM education and the future of human capital. With several products and services, STEMconnector® is both a resource and a service, designed to link “all things STEM.” STEMconnector®’s® network includes organizations at the global, national, state and local levels. Our work spans the entire pipeline (Kindergarten to Jobs) and how STEM education experiences translate into careers. STEMconnector® has a particular emphasis on diversity and women. For information on how to become a member, contact:Lorena.Fimbres@STEMconnector.org
About 100 Leaders in STEM Series -100 Leaders in STEM brings together a collection of leaders taking an active role as STEM ambassadors within their companies and industries. The goal of this series is to build a collective voice calling for strong, diverse, STEM leadership. is the fifth iteration of STEMconnector®’s leadership series. It follows 100 CIO/CTO Leaders in STEM (2015), 100 Diverse Corporate Leaders in STEM (2014), 100 CEO Leaders in STEM( 2013), and 100 Women Leaders in STEM(2012). Every publication is complemented with a year of promotion and strategic events that will bring together the vision of one, collective voice. STEMconnector®’s next publication will be the 100 Corporate Women Leaders in STEM, to be released during our Global STEM Talent Summit, April 26-27th, 2017, in Washington, D.C.
To learn more, contact: Lorena.Fimbres@STEMconnector.org.