Open Minds, Open Doors Connects Students to Employers in STEM Related Fields

(Cedar Rapids) -- On Thursday, 360 students representing 29 local schools will gather for the annual Open Minds, Open Doors STEM conference. These 7th and 8th grade students will spend the day exploring future pathways in STEM related careers.

Each year the conference, coordinated by Grant Wood Area Education Agency in partnership with Coe College and the American Association of University Women (AAUW), includes guest speakers, career workshop sessions with engaging, hands-on activities led by area residents working in STEM related fields.

This year, representatives from BAE Systems, Collins Aerospace, General Mills, Iowa Donor Network, John Deere, OPN Architects, Rock Valley Physical Therapy, Schneider Electric, the Boeing Company and University of Iowa Health Care will be sharing their real world experience with area students. UI College of Medicine will be leading a panel discussion and Dr. Kelly Wood of UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital will be delivering a keynote address. Funding this year has been provided by New Leader Manufacturing.

“This is a fantastic chance for both students and employers. Students get to explore STEM job options, which can pique their interest and give them valuable insights. At the same time, employers can use this opportunity to talk about their businesses and get students excited,” shares Susie Green, the Student Programs Specialist at Grant Wood AEA. “Down the road, this could also help employers find future employees. It's a win-win situation!"

This year’s conference has 27 career workshop sessions conducted by representatives from 22 different STEM related businesses in the Cedar Rapids - Iowa City corridor. 


Grant Wood AEA supports more than 72,000 students in public and accredited non-public schools in seven counties. Grant Wood AEA has coordinated the Open Minds, Open Doors conference since 1996, and annually invites students from Benton, Cedar, Iowa, Johnson, Jones, Linn and Washington counties to participate. This year’s conference is being held at the Coe College campus.