The Flinn Foundation has announced its support for the inaugural Arizona Science and Technology (SciTech) Festival, a six-week event in cities and towns across Arizona that will showcase innovation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The Festival’s events will be centered in February 2012, coinciding with the celebration of Arizona’s centennial.
Festival components will include exhibits, discussions, hands-on activities, and other experiences for young people and adults. The Flinn Foundation, a strong proponent of strategies to make Arizona globally competitive in the biosciences, has awarded a $50,000 grant to Arizona State University to help the Arizona SciTech Festival build a platform for fueling interest in the state’s scientific assets and potential.
The SciTech Festival will inspire young people to learn about the critical STEM fields, an essential aspect of preparing them for their future,” said Jack Jewett, president and CEO of the Flinn Foundation. “By highlighting the brilliant researchers and innovative companies that call Arizona home, the Festival can also strengthen public support for the kinds of investments that would benefit these fields.”
Some 200 organizations are being recruited to collaboratively present the Arizona SciTech Festival, with principal support and guidance from ASU, the Arizona Technology Council Foundation, and the Arizona Science Center. Planned activities range from large-scale exhibitions where the public can meet and learn from experts in fields such as aerospace, medicine, and nanotechnology, to tours of high-tech businesses and research labs, to visits by undergraduate and graduate-student researchers to K-12 classrooms.
The SciTech Festival will have something for everyone, and that’s because science and technology really are for everyone—and affect everyone,” said Jeremy Babendure, Ph.D., a longtime Arizona resident, biomedical scientist, and director of the Festival. “Over the past hundred years, our state has been shaped by fields like mining engineering, crop science, hydrology, and semiconductor design. The Festival will celebrate all of that and give people an exciting taste of what’s in store for Arizona in its second century.”
An informed and involved general public is a vital component of a thriving science and technology region, said Sethuraman (Panch) Panchanathan, Ph.D., ASU’s chief research officer. “The SciTech Festival offers a high-profile way for Arizonans to begin to understand and appreciate the rich base of sophisticated research and technology in our state and the immense potential it offers for future prosperity,” he said.
Steven Zylstra, president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council, anticipates that the Festival’s impact will extend beyond the Arizona’s borders.
“Certainly, the Festival gives us an opportunity to help build awareness among all of Arizona’s citizens, including policymakers, of Arizona’s strengths in its high-technology sectors,” Zylstra said. “In so doing, we’ll also raise Arizona’s profile in the eyes of entrepreneurs and companies that we want to attract. Drawing them to our state is essential if we are to diversify and strengthen our economy.”
The Flinn Foundation is a Phoenix-based, private, nonprofit philanthropic endowment established in 1965 by Dr. and Mrs. Robert S. Flinn with the mission of improving the quality of life in Arizona to benefit future generations. In addition to the biosciences, the Foundation supports the Flinn Scholars Program, arts and culture, and the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership.