Teen CEO Draws 2,200 Students to STEM-Related Local Companies

Area Companies Exhibiting at Teen CEO

  • Comporium
  • Cardinal Health
  • Shutterfly
  • Springs Creative
  • Continental Tire
  • York Tech Machine Tool
  • ATI Metals
  • Terex
  • West Marine
  • Summit Engineering
  • Piedmont Medical Center
  • Landscape Structures
  • SC Department of Natural Resources
  • PPG
  • Duke Energy
  • Thomas & Leitner Orthodonics
  • City of Rock Hill
  • Nutramax
  • Williams & Fudge
  • 3D South Carolina
  • PCI Group
  • Lord & Company
  • Keck and Wood

Inaugural “Teen CEO” event hosted by the STEM Development Foundation


ROCK HILL, S.C. – (May 16, 2016) – More than 2,200 8th graders, who normally would be dreaming of the impending long summer break from school, bore down recently on nearly 30 exhibits displaying STEM-related careers with area companies.

“These students had an eagerness that just took us by surprise,” said David Williams, president and CEO of Williams & Fudge in Rock Hill. “We were tremendously impressed with how interested they were in what we and the other businesses were presenting about our products and services and the types of jobs that one day they could hold.”

The inaugural “Teen CEO” event was hosted by the STEM Development Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to connect businesses that have jobs centered on science, technology, engineering and math with students and their families.

“This was our first attempt locally to increase awareness of STEM careers and to foster the students’ interest in the types of jobs that could be in their future,” said Matthew Dosch, a Comporium executive who serves as the STEM Development Foundation’s board chairman.

“Many of these students have already gotten a taste of STEM programs in their schools, and now they can see how it applies in real life,” added Dosch.  “To say that the companies’ representatives, the students and the school faculty and administrators were feeling excited about the possibilities they were seeing is an understatement.”

Teen CEO was held on the Winthrop University campus in McBryde Hall with the companies’ exhibits arranged similar to an industry trade show.  The students were provided nine career clusters that included:  Architecture and Construction; Arts, A/V Technology and Communications; Finance; Government and Public Administration; Health and Science; Information Technology; Manufacturing; Science, Technology, Engineering and math; Transportation, Distribution and Logistics. The students could choose two clusters themselves and two clusters were assigned to them.

“Many of these students have already gotten a taste of STEM programs in their schools, and now they can see how it applies in real life.”

“The idea was that the students would carry their passports developed by Fort Mill’s Shutterfly Foundation, gather information on each of the companies they visit, and have the passports stamped,” said Dr. Ed Duffy, executive director of the STEM Development Foundation.  “Their visits were confirmed by a teacher.  Then, the students became eligible for a prize.”

The STEM Development Foundation also arranged for the students to attend a presentation by author Brooks Harper, who wrote ‘Why Should We Hire You?’ among other books.  He shows students how academic success, relationships, leadership opportunities and treatment of others impacts their college and career choices.”

Duffy said that the plan is to have Teen CEO become an annual event, because there is a need for the local schools to learn more about the companies in the area and their job opportunities.  With this deeper knowledge, the students can better plan their curriculum in high school, technical colleges and universities.  He added that the companies also can see ways to partner with the schools and assist with workforce development.

“If we just awaken a small percentage of students to the possibilities in a STEM-focused career and give them hope, then this was all worthwhile,” said Duffy.  “Based on the feedback received so far, I think we reached the majority of those who participated.  This bodes well for our communities’ future.”