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 High Tech Fair Inspires Thousands of Students

​More than 3,000 students from throughout San Diego County learned about science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, by participating in 66 hands-on, interactive exhibits while industry leaders share their expertise and passion Tuesday and Wednesday at the High Tech Fair.

The interactive demonstrations at the Del Mar Fairgrounds reinforced the concepts students are learning about in school and provided them with important insight into possible college majors and careers related to STEM subjects.

The first night of the High Tech Fair was a free student-parent night Tuesday which was attended by nearly 900 people. The next day was the main event, where students in grades 7 through 12, from 55 public and private schools, arrive with their teachers to visit the exhibits. Each school was given 90 minutes to see the exhibits, which were split into seven strands: aerospace/engineering, biotech, energy/clean tech, conservation/environment, health tech, info tech, and robotics.

"There were a lot of things that I learned," said Rossi, an 8th-grade student from San Marcos Middle School.

Rossi's teacher, Debra Brice, said she wanted her students to attend the fair to be able to get a glimpse into their future and to get inspired about potential careers before they move on to high school.

"Now, maybe the kids who aren't straight-A students can see themselves in science and engineering," she said. "That's why I come every year."

The High Tech Fair is a collaborative effort between the San Diego Science Alliance, San Diego County Office of Education, and San Diego Unified School District.

"As San Diego’s leading force for STEM advancement, we put our expertise and resources into action to ignite passion and strengthen the education-industry pipeline so that we can re-emerge as a global leader in STEM," said Ellen Peneski, executive director of the San Diego Science Alliance.

The event started 16 years ago as a way to inspire students to pursue a future in STEM fields. San Diego companies, non-profits, and universities wanted to plant the seeds and grow a local source of STEM professionals to fill a burgeoning need for a highly skilled workforce in the community.

The hands-on experiences included Genentech manufacturing medicines in a clean room; Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and ViaSat exploring aerospace; Microsoft teaching students to code an app on a mobile device; and Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center displaying da Vinci robotic surgery.