Sandy, Utah – Eleven-year-old Marianne Liu has a passion for learning about science, technology, engineering and math so when she heard about the scholarship to attend a STEM camp this summer offered by RizePoint for Canyons School District students, she jumped at the opportunity.
“This is my first scholarship that I have applied for and that is why I was excited that I got the opportunity to get a scholarship and have the experience to attend a fun camp in the STEM fields,” she said.
Marianne planned to attend a video-game designed camp at the University of Utah.
“I hope to learn how to make a decent game that, hopefully, my friends will be able to play with me. In the future, I would love to learn more about programming or game design. This camp ties into my interests,” said the Sunrise Elementary fifth-grader.
On May 18, 23 Canyons students from 5th-grade through a high school junior were honored as RizePoint scholarship recipients after a committee reviewed their application that included a personal explanation of their own ambitions to learn at a STEM camp, their academic record and recommendations from a teacher and a peer.
RizePoint, headquartered in Cottonwood Heights, has mobile and cloud-based auditing software that helps organizations improve the quality, safety and sustainability of their products, services and facilities. Companies can gather better data, see results earlier and act faster on any red flags. RizePoint’s auditing software is used by five of the top eight hospitality brands, including Marriott and IHG, and five of the top 8 food service brands, including McDonald’s and Wendy’s.
“RizePoint approached the school district in February and wanted to award scholarships to encourage students in STEM education through summer camps,” Canyons Education Foundation Development Officer Laura Barlow said. “We don’t have another company that specifically supports STEM education in summer camps so we were excited to offer this opportunity for our students.”
Barlow said of the applicants, 11 recipients are female, and the majority were fifth-graders entering middle school or current middle school students.
Students could select their camps, and included BioEYES: Genetics in Action, University of Utah robotics, engineering and programming camps, AWE+SUM girls camp, EAE game design Studio, Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center space camp, Camp Colossus’ Physics of Roller Coasters, Explorations in Science camp at Juan Diego Catholic High School, First Lego League’s graphics and robotics camp and Hatfield Marine Science Center’s marine investigations camp.
“When we were initially talking about supporting students, we thought about financially contributing to a school, but then we wanted to know how the money was being used and through our discussion, we came up with STEM education,” RizePoint CEO Frank Maylett said. “We thought wouldn’t it be great to support the next generation of STEM education and there are some really cool technology camps that maybe some students don’t have money to attend. For some, this can help them to know what it’s like to afford extra opportunities.”
Maylett said that when he was first thinking about the scholarships, he thought it may serve about five secondary students who would enroll in computer science camps, but the $5,000 was able to stretch to more students who had expanded interests.
“What a great opportunity for students to spend the summer learning the science of roller coasters or about marine science or rockets. But then I begin to wonder why more kids aren’t wanting to learn about biomechanics or robotics. I know those who are pure science lovers have the curiosity, but I’d also like to reach those students who have a solid background, but need a push to expand their knowledge and interest in STEM,” he said.
Maylett estimates that may be about half of all students. He hopes to reach those students as well next summer, as he plans to continue the scholarship on an annual basis, even awarding more opportunities to students based on the company growth.
However, Maylett said that wasn’t the only commitment the company made.
“We plan to provide training, labs and have volunteers work in coding with students as well as introduce students to the business side of our technology. We have 40 engineers who are motivated to work with kids so once we are able to work out details with the school district; we will be in the classrooms. We have a commitment deeper than financial; it’s serving our community,” he said.
Maylett, who was named 2016 CEO of the Year by the Utah Technology Council, took over the company (then called Stenton) last fall and launched the rebirth and renaming of the company by March.
“Stenton wasn’t a name that represent our progressive approach. We are a whole different company, that is learning, developing, contributing and we are very proud of what we’ve done. We serve our company each quarter by shutting the doors and reaching out to others,” he said, adding that this summer employees will volunteer at a farm that helps feed local refugees.
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