Editor’s note: James Amato is President of the RTP Rotary and manager for strategy and business development of WRAL TechWire.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – The Research Triangle Park Rotary Club will celebrate its 50th year since its founding by former Rotary International President and North Carolina Governor Luther Hodges with the first annual “STEAM: Changing the World” day of events.

Partnering with the NC Biotechnology Center, Research Triangle High School, the Kramden Institute, Sigma Xi, STEM in the Park, and others, the RTP Rotary will host multiple STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) events to help engage and excite local middle and high school students about careers in these important fields and to recognize innovative RTP companies, large and small and the innovators and disruptors within them whose efforts have and continue to change the world.

Comprised of events in the morning and afternoon in RTP the effort will culminate with an event at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center that will include a panel discussion titled “The Future of STEAM.”

Panelists include:

  • Richard Kouri, Ph.D., CIMS, NCSU
  • Kelly Witter, EPA STEM Outreach Program
  • Andy Taylor, MEDIC
  • Stephanie Mixon-Byrd, Young Women in Biotechnology
  • Rick Smyre, Center for Communities of the Future

Following the panel discussion will be a recognition ceremony celebrating the past, present and future of RTP and leaders who have made major contributions to their respective fields and the wider world.

Research Triangle Foundation President/CEO Scott Levitan will close the event with a presentation of his vision for the future of RTP.

Honorees Include:

  • Mary-Dell Chilton, one of the founders of modern plant biotechnology, known for her extensive contributions to plant biotechnology and the production of the first transgenic plants.
  • Mansukh C. Wani, Ph.D., Principal Scientist Emeritus with RTI International, who discovered the widely used anti-cancer agents Camptothecin and Taxol.
  • Fred Brooks, Ph.D., Kenan Professor and founder of the UNC Department of Computer Science, known for managing the development of IBM’s System/360 family of computers and OS/360 software.
  • Ivy Carroll, RTI Distinguished Fellow for Medicinal Chemistry, whose contributions to anti-cancer, anti-radiation and anti-malarial research are unparalleled.
  • Charles Hamner, DVM, Ph.D., former CEO of the NC Biotechnology Center and one of the creators of the life sciences industry of North Carolina.

“We are truly grateful to the companies and organizations participating in this inaugural STEAM: Changing the World program. We are humbled by the overwhelming response to this initiative which will offer STEAM insights to our youth about career choices and to recognize STEAM leaders in the community,” said Michael Waters, PhD., RTP Rotary Foundation chair and event lead. “We invite community members to join us for the program and learn about Rotary’s guiding principle of service above self.”

Corporate Honorees Include:

  • TransEnterix
  • PrecisionHawk
  • Panaceutics
  • Metabolon
  • Medicago
  • Locus Biosciences
  • Improved Nature
  • bioMason
  • AgBiome
  • Advanced Animal Diagnostics

Hodges’ son, Luther Hodges Jr.,  congratulated the RTP Rotary Club on the event.

“I can certainly affirm that your emphasis on academic achievement in the sciences is exactly what my father wanted to see at the Research Triangle Park and environs,” he said. “North Carolina’s great academic institutions were the driving force behind the Research Triangle, and my father frequently said that our state was exporting our best assets; namely, the graduates of  UNC, NCSU, and Duke.  We then needed to develop and encourage employment opportunities for our graduates in the areas of science and technology.”

Event details