Arizona Innovation Summit draws makers, cybersecurity experts and pirates

Co-written with Tishin Donkersley
Pacman, pirates and protons made an appearance at the 5th annual Arizona SciTech Festival Innovation Summit bringing STEAM education to the forefront of the community.
Fifty exhibitors from across the state packed the Scottsdale Center for the Arts Thursday to share what their company does and how they help fuel STEAM education for K-12 students and educators.

A big focus for this year’s event was around being a maker and cybersecurity. The AZ Makers Station, powered by companies such as PADT, Axosoft and Code Clubs for Arizona, led students through simple introduction projects such as 3D printing a femur or building and coding an LED object.
“There are young people here, there are plenty of girls here, and we want to nurture girls in tech at a young age before they are given a chance to be marginalized,” Axosoft’s John Sparrow said.
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“It’s hands on,” Executive Director AZ SciTech Festival Jeremy Babendure said. “You can actually go and watch them make something here which is pretty cool. There’s a lot more students here this year too.”
Twenty interactive learning sessions around manufacturing and materials, STEM education, and cybersecurity were popular among the attendees.
One exhibitor, Larry Canepa founder of Dinner at Eight and a culinary educator, helps students understand the connection between food and chemistry through a full senses experience while simultaneously building a love for the culinary arts.
“It’s almost impossible not to break [food and science]. Whether it’s the grass that the cows eat that eventually becomes cheese, or whether it’s the grapes that become wine or whether it’s coffee beans that become coffee or whether it’s flower that turns into a beautiful loaf of bread. For me, it’s natural. When you put the arts in culinary arts and add it to STEM you get STEAM,” Canepa said.
The all-day event attracted nearly 750 visitors from around the state.
“We really like to have the opportunity to engage with students and educators to show them what the possibilities are and what’s out there,” Kathryn Pesta of Phoenix Analysis & Design Technologies said. “There’s a good blend of educators and actual students and it’s fun for me personally to see the kids get really excited about 3D printing.”
The collaborative event is held by Arizona SciTech and the Arizona Commerce Authority.
Visit the events calendar for more tech events around Arizona.