Since 1977, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) has worked to substantially increase American Indian and Alaska Native representation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields — as students, professionals, mentors, and leaders.
The AISES National Conference is a one-of-a-kind, three day event convening graduate, under graduate and high school junior and senior students, teachers, workforce professionals, corporate and government partners and all members of the AISES family.
The 35th annual conference in Denver, Colo. included representatives from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians––Alicia Jacobs, director of the Jones-Bowman Leadership Award Program, six Jones-Bowman Fellows and Daniel Martin, programmer for the Cherokee Preservation Foundation.
“My goal was to make new connections and arrange for Kelsey Owle to start a chapter at the Cherokee Central Schools. I also wanted to attend sessions that would be beneficial for me as I lead the Jones-Bowman program,” said Jacobs.
The AISES National conference has become the premier event for Native American Science, Engineering & Math (STEM) professionals and students and attracts over 1,600 attendees from across the country.
“I was fortunate to attend the AISES conference through the help of the Jones-Bowman Leadership Award Program. I had a wonderful experience while there and learned valuable information on how to start a chapter at Cherokee Central Schools,” said Owle.
The conference provides social & professional networking, mentoring, research and nationally recognized speakers. It also offers thought-provoking discussions on important current STEM issues, as well as excellent career resources and traditional cultural activities.
Jones-Bowman Fellow Kayla Smith said, “While at the conference, I attended the career fair which offers a wide variety of colleges and businesses looking for Native American students who are interested in jobs, internships, and graduate schools. The career fair was helpful for me in planning my future for the betterment of my tribe and myself.”
In addition to the professional development tracks and workshops, the national conference provides opportunities to showcase academic research and study as well as connections to graduate, internship, fellowship and career opportunity.
“The AISES conference was a great opportunity to see all of the resources that are out there for Native American college students. I really enjoyed the career fair and exploring all the different graduate programs available to me after graduation,” said Jones-Bowman Fellow, Savannah Hicks.
Dakota Brown, another Jones-Bowman Fellow, agreed. “It was great to be able to see so many other Native American students gathered in one place. The highlight of the conference was the career fair, where I was able to meet many different professionals, make connections and learn about possible internships for the future,” she said.
The AISES conference offers a sense of community and provides a unique perspective on how native tradition and STEM can be effectively bridged in the 21st century.
Carmen Johnson, a Jones-Bowman Fellow and 2016 graduate of Duke University, said, “The 2013 AISES conference provided me with the opportunity to meet other Native Americans from across the country who are involved in scientific STEM fields. The conference empowers Native communities across the US to pursue analytical careers and helps unify, encourage, and elevate students to reach their full potential in these challenging fields of study.”
Over 200 tribal nations are represented within AISES. Through the quality and reach of its programs and the longevity and devoted commitment of its family, AISES is the leader in STEM opportunity in Indian Country.
“We were able to meet people from Google and NASA and other people looking to hire and have a internship with them. We also met some people from Cherokee nation who were very helpful and offered us an internship and job if we wanted one. Over all, I came away motivated and encouraged,” said Tim Calhoun, an attending Jones-Bowman Fellow.
“It was great to see the Fellows enthusiasm to lead in Region 7 of this conference. Within the next few months the attending Fellows plan to travel to NC State to vote on this region’s AISES leader, along with Dakota Brown who is wanting to start another chapter at WCU,” said Jacobs.
– Marilyn Ball, for the Cherokee Preservation Foundation