ON Semiconductor Advances STEM Education Through Local Partnerships
ON Semiconductor is proud to support and take part in the fourth annual Arizona State University Innovation Open (ASUio) pitch competition. Sponsored by Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering, ASUio challenges university-level students to test the limits and pursue innovative solutions to develop hard tech ventures. This event provides students with a platform to showcase their technology ventures while receiving mentorship and funding in return for participation. The ideas that they pitch can be within a wide variety of cutting-edge marketplaces such as hardware solutions, internet of things (IoT), social enterprises with a focus on conscious capitalism and so forth. This year’s ASUio event had over 100 entrepreneurial-minded students with representation from 46 different universities.
During this day-long competition, competitors pitch their cutting-edge technology solutions to a panel of start-up leaders and industry experts from various industries like autonomous transportation, healthcare, IoT, wearable technology, semiconductors and more.
Representing ON Semiconductor on the panel of experts was Dave Priscak and Alan Hoertt, who listened to pitches from some of the brightest minds tackling large-scale industrial problems.
Amazed by the innovative ideas, Dave Priscak, vice president of global solutions engineering at ON Semiconductor, commented, “I was humbled by the work being done by these innovative students and the projects they showcased. There were incredible ideas pitched, ranging from people’s safety, sustainability and general society enhancements for improved living. I’m excited to be a part of the advances in the engineering community and proud of my company, which fuels innovation and change while respecting its diverse workforce.”
There were many ventures focused on solving many challenges, such as an IoT solution reducing the impact of oil wells by 250 million tons of CO2 annually, a cocktail napkin that detects specific date rape drug presence, a state-of-the-art chip-scale sensor that enabled autonomous machines to navigate and perceive the world around them and many others.
“It was inspiring to see so many teams utilizing technology to cultivate an eco-friendly planet,” stated Alan Hoertt, marketing manager of solutions engineering at ON Semiconductor. “Whether it was aimed at improving energy infrastructure, enhancing solar power efficiency or medical and educational applications, all pitches were presented by teams of young, passionate engineers. Not only are they creating a business, but a movement to positively impact the ecosystem.”
However, one venture and product, in particular, stood out to Priscak and Hoertt, ultimately receiving the ON Semiconductor award, “Transform Your Mind” and a check for $25,000 to further develop and fund the product. Kiri, created by Nick Porfolio and Jake Starley of Brigham Young University, is a “screenless smart toy” used by children as a means of teaching language skills by using simple blocks and cubes. The product has the benefits of a technology smart toy without the drawbacks of screens.
“We started building Kiri over two years ago with a simple goal in mind – to build a tech-forward toy without a screen, while still remaining fun and engaging for children,” said Porfolio and Starley. Knowing the benefits of technology in education, Porfolio and Starley sought to provide a more personalized way for children to learn without the over usage of screens, which have been linked to depression, ADHD, anxiety and social issues amongst children. Kiri provides children with a fun, interactive learning experience to refine language skills and learn new languages via hands-on learning with screenless toys.
“As a semiconductor company we view innovation in terms of new process, packaging and technology advancements,” states Priscak, “but its tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and future engineers where we see our advances fuel innovation such as enhanced safety in vehicles, global connectivity and improved quality of life via health and medical advancements.”
ON Semiconductor has several initiatives in place to support corporate social responsibility and giving back to the local communities in which we operate. At the beginning of this year, ON Semiconductor launched the ON Semiconductor Foundation, as a commitment to serving the needs of communities through the investment of resources. Further, as part of our pledge to make a positive impact on the community, we have two affinity network groups (ANG) which actively push and support STEM education and empowerment initiatives, including STEM UP (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and the Employee Activity Committee (EAC).
With a mission to retain and develop a diverse workforce, STEM UP is very active in the community, fostering passion amongst young students and upcoming engineers by hosting and sponsoring events. Focusing on the group's three pillars of recruitment, retention and service-learning, STEM UP has made a tremendous impact upon the local community and continues to seek areas where our employees can serve. The EAC works to increase employee engagement through community service-oriented events, making an impact on the local community, employee relationships and workplace culture.
As a global semiconductor organization, we believe STEM education is a critical initiative to support and invest in. Reflecting back on ASUio and ON Semiconductor’s dedication to the STEM world, Hoerrt shares, “semiconductors act as the building blocks to the many technologies that are transforming the way we advance society, communicate globally and ultimately, the preservation of the planet.”
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