For Immediate Release: August 9, 2014
From: International Association for STEM Leaders
International Association for STEM Leaders makes debut in the nation’s capitol and recognizes North Carolina’s School of Science and Mathematics as a statewide, national and international leader in STEM education. Dr. Ershela Sim, Dean of Engineering and Technology is part of our ongoing video documentary featuring national STEM leaders.
On April 24 and 25, Millwood Virginia-based, International Association for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Leaders successfully launched its inaugural leadership event at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. Nearly 100 STEM leaders from around the world joined IASL leadership. This invitation only annual STEM Leadership Summit recognized several attendees for their leadership in STEM education through a formal awards ceremony. The awards were presented to programs, schools, school districts and individuals who exemplify STEM Excellence as defined by criteria developed by IASL.
The Statewide STEM Leadership award was presented to the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics and was accepted by program leader, Dr. Ershela Sims, Dean of Engineering and Technology. “This school is a statewide leader in North Carolina. They not only offer a high quality and unique STEM education to their students, they also offer STEM classes to schools around the state through an innovative distance education program,” said Dr. Carole Inge, founder of IASL. The school’s courses range from AP Computer Science and Modeling with Differential Equations to Mechanical Engineering, and Biomedical Instrumentation. In addition, NCSSM offers a variety of courses to other high schools around the state online and through interactive video conferencing such as Honors Aerospace Engineering and Computational Chemistry. In addition, faculty at the school are in the last stages of completing a multi-strand four year high school STEM curriculum for the NC Department of Public Instruction, which will be implemented at schools around the state. Every one of North Carolina’s 13 congressional districts is represented by students who attend this institution.
The International Association for STEM Leaders is globally recognized for creating a "golden standard" for STEM excellence in traditional and non-traditional educational settings for all Pre-kindergarten through adult students. In collaboration with global STEM leaders, the IASL will provide guidance for implementing excellent STEM programming and develop a STEM framework that is industry-based and globally recognized. In the coming months, IASL will host regional events to continue its recognition of exceptional leadership, through awards and to focus its outreach activities around regional education and economic development issues.
The STEM Leadership Summit was help in conjunction with the world’s largest STEM event, hosted by the USA Science and Engineering Festival. STEMconnector, the leading one-stop shop for STEM information participated as an initial sponsor and Edie Fraser, the founder, spoke to the IASL leaders and recognized them for their important work of impacting the lives of students every day through STEM leadership and education. Other partners include Diversified Education Systems (DES), a leader in “turn key” laboratories including: casework, equipment, curriculum, training and support. DES is further a collaborator with Root Cause and Pitsco Education, two additional partners of IASL. On the online side of STEM, Learning Blade and Career ATG offer career and STEM awareness, exposure and training to students. Finally, Concept Schools, a charter school management company and Vista Teach an early elementary robotics and engineering education company took part in the event as sponsors.
Dr. Ershela Sims is the Dean of Engineering and Technology and an Engineering Instructor at the NC School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM). As an instructor, she has developed and teaches a variety of engineering courses including, Intro to Mechanical Engineering, Statics, and Biomedical Instrumentation. In addition, she was a lead developer on a curriculum development project for the NC Department of Public Instruction, where she developed a 4-year curriculum in health & life sciences and biomedical engineering. She also mentors student research projects in Biomechanics as well as other areas of engineering and is the faculty sponsor for multiple engineering clubs including NSBE Jr and NASCAR Ten80. Dr. Sims earned a BSE in Biomedical Engineering from Duke University in 1993 and a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of NC at Chapel Hill in 2000. She also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Biomechanics in the Department of Surgery at Duke University, where she worked on an NIH funded longitudinal study investigating gait mechanics associated with osteoarthritis of the knee. Following her postdoctoral fellowship, she taught anatomy courses in the medical school at Duke University for two years. From 2010-2013, she was an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Duke University. In that role Dr. Sims trained and mentored undergraduate and graduate students on Biomechanics research projects and theses. Mostly recently she worked with a senior on her thesis investigating the effects of high heeled shoes on gait mechanics during walking. During her tenure at Duke, Dr. Sims and her colleagues published a number of manuscripts on biomechanics, as well as anatomical and medical education. Prior to her career in academia, Dr. Sims worked as a software design engineer and later a technical architect at Nortel Networks for five years developing telecommunications software. Following her work in industry, she worked as the Assistant Director of the Duke-UNC Brain Imaging and Analysis Center for two years where she performed functional MRI research and managed a number of ongoing research projects.
Dr. Sims is a member of a number of professional organizations including the American Society for Engineering Educators, National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and the Duke University Engineering Alumni Council (EAC). She is currently the President of the Duke University Pratt School of Engineering EAC and she is a Region 2 NSBE Jr. National Advisor Council representative; she also a member of the NSBE Jr Scientific Review Committee. Dr. Sims is involved in a number of STEM outreach activities, both through her position at NCSSM and through professional organizations of which she is a member. She is the Program Director of Step Up to STEM, a 2-week STEM summer program for underrepresented rising 9th grade students from the state of North Carolina. Prior to her involvement in Step Up to STEM, Dr. Sims was an applied science instructor in the Labs for Learning summer program which served a cohort of rising 7th through 10th grade students from underserved counties in the state of North Carolina. She has also led a number of STEM workshops at NSBE national conventions, ranging from biomechanics of human movement to the design of a respiration rate study. Moreover, Dr. Sims is the principal investigator on multiple STEM curriculum grants that support the development and delivery of engineering courses to students around the state of North Carolina. In addition to outreach, Dr. Sims has also performed a variety of service in her field as a reviewer for journals such as Arthritis Care and Research and the Journal of Ergonomics, and as a participant in career panels for local chapters of organizations such as the Biomedical Engineering Society, Society of Women Engineers, National Society of Black Engineers and Women in Technology International. In addition, she participates in the annual Duke Engineering Alumni Council Resume Review Workshop.
Her dedication to engineering, STEM education and scholarship has not gone unnoticed. Dr. Sims is the 2012 recipient of the National Society of Black Engineers Dr. Janice A. Lumpkin Educator of the Year. That same year, she and a colleague, physics instructor Jackie Bondell, also won the National Science Teachers Association Vernier Technology Award for their two collaborations using Vernier Technology. Sims and Bondell gave a workshop in the fall of 2012 at the NC Science Teachers Association Professional Development Institute entitled "Integrating Physics and Engineering: Biomechanics of Human Movement", to train other teachers around the state of NC how integrate biomechanics into a Physics curriculum using anything from a bathroom scale and mobile phone camera, to the iPad or sophisticated Vernier force plates and video cameras. In 2013, Dr. Sims was awarded the NC School of Science and Mathematics Exceptional Contribution in Scholarship Award.