UNM School of Engineering Education & Outreach Manager awarded 2020 Excellence in STEM Award
Stefi Weisburd, University of New Mexico education and outreach manager in the School of Engineering, was recently awarded the 2020 Excellence in STEM Award by the Air Force Research Lab Tech Engagement Office.
Over the years, Weisburd facilitated and participated in many outreach projects that contributed to her receiving this award such as being a solar energy technology policy analyst for the U.S. Congress, a science journalist and technical writer, a volunteer at Explora, a science poet, and an outreach activity coordinator for UNM.
“I love science and I am fascinated by the ingenuity and beauty of the natural world and by the engineers who create materials and systems —often by copying nature,” Weisburd said, “I love to share my fascinations with kids especially, because they usually still have that natural awe ready to pop out at a moment’s notice.”
Weisburd’s UNM outreach, conducted with UNM students as facilitators, touches thousands of people a year through their thirty to fifty events. Along with this outreach, Weisburd is a Big Brothers Big Sisters Mentor at South Valley High School, she has found places for teachers and high school students in research labs, and she has helped education directors in other universities with their own outreach programs.
“I’m not a teacher in a school. I’m not a museum educator. I don’t fit in a neat category. So it is a real honor to be included with teachers, and to be acknowledged as an educator too with a role to play,” Weisburd said.
Weisburd aims to nurture children’s curiosity and drive to explore the universe and come up with creative solutions to different problems the world faces.
“These kids face enormous challenges — climate change central among them,” Weisburd said, “They need to stay in touch with their wonder of the natural world, their respect for rational and critical thinking, and through our outreach with UNM students from all kinds of racial, gender and socioeconomic backgrounds, see themselves having agency and the unique intellectual capacity and insight to contribute significantly to solving these challenges.”