Kelvin Beachum of the New York Jets Connects STEM & Sports

 "Everybody can't go pro in football," he says. "But everybody can go pro in STEM."

"Everybody can't go pro in football," he says. "But everybody can go pro in STEM."

Kelvin Beachum, the newly-signed tackle for the New York Jets, is on a mission. And it has nothing to do with bouncing back from a sluggish season after suffering a serious knee injury.

Instead, Beachum wants to find a way to tap into the millions of football fans that the NFL has cultivated and use its visibility, access and reach to tout the importance of science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

"How do we take the NFL and leverage all the access they have – its millions of different fans out there," he asked Friday at U.S. News STEM Solution conference in San Diego, California. "How do we engage the NFL on a deeper level than just, 'Hey, let's engage the fans?'"

The Texas-native graduated from Southern Methodist University in 2010 with a bachelor's degree in economics and a minor in sports management. The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted him in 2012, where he played starting left tackle until an injury sidelined him in 2015. In 2016, he signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars during free agency, and most recently, he signed on to play for the New York Jets.

When he's not training and playing, Beachum spends time in classrooms and schools, helping children, especially minority and disadvantaged youth, develop a passion for STEM disciplines and STEM careers, focusing mainly on robotics, mechanical engineering, computer programming, coding and aviation.

"I say this all the time and it's a message I hold to be true," he said. "Everybody can't go pro in football, but everybody can go pro in STEM."

The idea to use sports to engage students in STEM fields isn't new, but it's catapulted in recent years, especially as the gap has widened between those with access and exposure to STEM and those without. The goal is simple: Take something that young people can relate to and feel passionate about, like football, or sports in general, and use it to get them thinking about and excited about STEM.

When it comes to football, Beachum said, there are environmental majors who take care of the field and finance majors who work on athletes' contracts.

"There are a number of different opportunities for our young people to get involved," he said.

To be sure, Beachum isn't alone in his effort, even within the NFL. A growing number of teams, including the San Francisco 49ers, have launched various STEM initiatives.

One of the biggest challenges, explained Jesse Lovejoy, director of STEAM Education & the San Francisco 49ers Museum, is figuring out how to pique the interest of students and hook them while they're still young enough to amass a significant enough STEM foundation to be able to pursue it as a career.

"When I was a kid," he said, "I had a fixed mindset of 'I'm not good at math.' That's a stigma I had boxed myself into."

Lovejoy could calculate earned run averages, runs batted in and a whole host of other baseball statistics, "But nobody told me that was math," he said.

"We have to light that fire, and the way to do it is by doing things like we're doing – taking something like sports and saying, 'This is your access point.'"

Today, Lovejoy helps run a free STEM education program for students in grades K-8, which has so far reached 100,000 students.

That's also what Ricardo Valerdi, founder and chief scientist at Science of Sport and engineering professor at the University of Arizona is doing – teaching children about biomechanics, physiology, speed, acceleration, launch angles and more.

Valerdi partners with the Arizona Diamondbacks, San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Colorado Rockies, Washington Nationals, Houston Astros, Atlanta Braves and others to host children at the Major League Baseball stadiums to help them make the connection between sports and STEM.

"They think they're going to a baseball camp," said Valerdi. "They're really going to a STEM camp."

Xerox's Ursula Burns: U.S. Businesses Must Embrace Globalization

 The first African-American woman to lead an S&P 500 company says businesses must constantly innovate to stay globally competitive.

The first African-American woman to lead an S&P 500 company says businesses must constantly innovate to stay globally competitive.

Xerox Chairman of the Board Ursula Burns has worked for nearly 40 years to ensure the printing and copying company adapts in an increasingly paperless world. A regular on both Forbes' and Fortune's most powerful women lists, Burns has come a long way from her childhood in the New York City housing projects.

Burns graduated with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Polytechnic Institute of New York University in 1980, and earned her master's the next year from Columbia University. Starting as an intern at Xerox in 1980, Burns worked her way up to the top position, becoming the first African-American woman to lead an S&P 500 company.

Burns became Xerox's president in 2007, CEO in 2009 and chairman in 2010. Soon after being named CEO, she led Xerox's $6.4 billion acquisition of Affiliated Computer Services, the largest purchase in company history.

In 2016, she spearheaded the company's split into two publicly traded companies: Xerox Corp., focused on document technology, and Conduent Inc., for business process outsourcing. She stepped down as CEO after the split, remaining chairman of the new Xerox.

Burns helped lead the White House's national STEM program from 2009 to 2016, and was chair of the President's Export Council from 2015 to 2016. She also sits on the board of directors of American Express, Exxon Mobil and the Ford Foundation.

Burns is among the 2017 STEM Leadership Hall of Fame inductees and is scheduled to speak at the U.S. News STEM Solutions National Leadership Conference in San Diego on May 25. (This interview has been edited for length and clarity.)

You are regularly regarded as one of the most powerful businesswomen in the U.S. Did you always know that you wanted to lead a major company?

It came with time as I progressed in my career. You've got to think about the time that I grew up. I graduated from college in 1980; I graduated from high school in 1976. So I was growing up in the late 1960s, early 1970s. Access to the information for me to even know what a major company was, how one was structured, that kind of thing, was just not pervasive. So no, I didn't have any knowledge of or aspiration to be running a major company. I did, though, have very clear direction from my mother that I would be successful. That was an expectation that was laid pretty clearly, but her idea of success was not necessarily to run a company.

7th-grader inspired by 'Hidden Figures' raises money to take 100 girls to see film

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Jacksonville seventh-grader raised over $15,000 to take a hundred girls to see the new movie "Hidden Figures" on Saturday.

The movie details the untold story of three black women who helped provide the brainpower behind one of NASA's greatest achievements – landing men on the moon.

The organizer, 13-year-old Taylor Richardson, said she saw the movie at a screening in Washington, D.C., and was inspired to bring girls back home to see the film.

“I was so amazed,” Taylor said. “I didn't know about these women at all. So when I saw this movie, I was like, ‘Everybody should see this movie.”’

Taylor raised the money needed to purchase 100 tickets and invited girls from all backgrounds to join the viewing. She said she hopes they will understand that they, too, can be pioneers.

“We invited a hundred girls to come see Hidden Figures and be inspired by what these women did and hopefully will follow their dreams knowing these women could do what they did,” Taylor said.

Like most who joined the viewing, Angela Zabrin hadn’t heard of the women in the film. 

“It makes me feel very good that women got so far with this,” Zabrin said. “I'm very happy about it.”

Adults like Dania Frink also saw the movie for the first time, supporting Taylor's push to inspire others, and hoping Saturday's movie screening sparks more positivity in the community.

“Makes me proud to be living here to see young people like Taylor -- young leaders,” Frink said.

Taylor said she's planning to get some rest before her next venture, but she said she wants to continue inspiring young girls to believe they can do whatever men can do.

Out Think Hidden

IBM and the New York Times’ T Brand Studio have introduced a new augmented reality (AR) application profiling early unsung heroes of innovation in STEM fields.

Reveal their inspiring stories when you scan an AR marker like the one below. Activate text, photos and video content about these hidden figures within ad units on, via ads in select print editions of The New York Times, and at 150 geofenced locations throughout the U.S.

Placing these hidden figures out in the world as virtual monuments for you to explore is our way of imagining a world where every STEM innovator can be encouraged, recognized and celebrated.

Download the new T Brand Studio AR app to see hidden heroes of STEM. Use the app to scan the marker at below and meet your first hidden figure.


CES 2017

The Power of Hidden Figures & Diversity in STEM

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2017, Soledad O’Brien hosted a panel on the importance of diversity in STEM fields, presented by IBM and featuring special guests from the Twentieth Century Fox film, ‘Hidden Figures,’ and leaders from the industry. Soledad was joined by Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer, the film’s director Theodore Melfi, Elizabeth Gabler (President Fox 2000 Pictures), Leah Gilliam (Girls Who Code), Rashid Ferrod Davis (P-TECH), Lindsay-Rae McIntyre (IBM Chief Diversity Officer) and Kristen Summers (Watson Public Sector).