Cox Connect2STEM 2016 Award Winners



Connect2STEM is a celebration of science, technology, engineering, and math. A focus on STEM is vital for the future success of our youth. Connect2STEM hosts an annual event that provides youth the opportunity to be hands-on with all things STEM. In addition, the Connect2STEM Awards recognize leaders in the STEM community throughout the year.

2016 Innovation Award for Business: USDA Agriculture Research Center

Since 2012 the USDA-ARS Arid-land Agricultural Research Center (ALARC) in Maricopa, AZ has been involved in partnerships with South Mountain Community College (SMCC) (2012-2015) and Central Arizona Community College (CAC) (2015-present) to provide under-represented high school students with hands-on science experiences and introduce them to careers pathways in STEM fields. The overall goal of both programs is to expose students to STEM related areas in order to grow their interest in pursuing undergraduate and advance degrees in STEM fields and to eventually work in science related careers with USDA, Universities or private industry.

2016 Student Teckie Award: Megan Nielsen (Red Mountain High School)

Megan leads her peers in and outside of class and advocates for STEM throughout the community. Currently, Megan serves as a student researcher at Barrow Neurological Institute, the Biotechnology Club President, and the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) President. Megan is currently conducting research on Alzheimer’s at Barrow’s and aspires to specialize in neurology research related to diseases of the brain or become a neurosurgeon. She leads her peers in research and outreach events across the valley through Biotechnology Club, and she is currently promoting community awareness of CPR by presenting at the high school, our feeder schools, and throughout the community

Teacher Teckie Award: Scott Weiler (Amphi Middle School)

Besides Mr. Weiler being one of the few teachers that teach middle school engineering, robotics, and programming, he coaches two clubs, MESA and Robotics. His most impressive achievement is how he started Girl Power in Science and Engineering, a mentor program to get more girls interested in STEM fields by introducing them to female STEM mentors and taking them on field trips. He has reached over 120 girls in the four years he founded the group and he has sat on the committee for Engineering 101 to promote engineering in more middle schools. He is also a member of the JTED Engineering Advisory Board for Southern Arizona.

After School Excellence Award: Si Se Puede

The Si Se Puede Foundation (SSPF) is a nonprofit, tax-exempt, organization that delivers services to young people in 6 Title I Schools in the Chandler Unified School District since 1993. Many of the neighborhoods it serves have a high incidence of crime, unemployment, poverty and school dropout. SSPF offers after school and weekend and summer programs in calculus, chemistry, as well as general tutoring, especially serving ESL students. Since 2006, SSPF has sponsored and mentored FIRST Robotics Lego League (FLL) teams and has supported the Chandler High School Robotics team.

Creative Media Award: Tucson Unified School District

The Tucson Unified School District promotes and connects students to resources that have the potential to lead to STEM-based careers through events such as STEM Summit and SciTech. TUSD promotes and shares these events via the TUSD website and social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, LiveStream). Photos and videos are shared following the events, or even sometimes live streamed on the website while the event is occurring so people who may not be able to attend the event in person are able to participate via live stream.

Chief Science Officer – Kane Wotell

Winner of the 2016 Chief Science Officer Award is Kane Wotell, a middle schooler with uncommon drive and inspiration.