Like many teens, when Metea Valley Sophomore Dhruv Syngol started to think about college and potential careers, he felt stuck.
“I was stuck in deciding what courses to take to reach my goals, nor did I even know what my goals were,” he said. Instead of just researching different majors on Google, Syngol “felt that it was more beneficial if [he] could talk to actual people who were in the fields that [he] was interested in and ask them, ‘Hey, what classes did you take to reach your goal? or what internships did you take?’”
Syngol wanted to combine his passion for learning and his interest in STEM, which is why last August he founded Open Gears, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to educate youth about STEM and STEM careers through online webinars. The guest speakers at Open Gears webinars range from STEM professionals and researchers to college students who are in the STEM field.
“A lot of the world is founded on STEM principles. So being able to educate the masses on STEM is something that will be most impactful for the future,” said Syngol.
STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics– is a rapidly growing industry. By 2022, there will be 9 million STEM-related jobs in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
By educating students on this industry at a young age, Syngol hopes to alleviate what he calls “the major switch rabbit hole that may take place in the future.”
About one-third of students enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs changed majors, according to a 2018 study released by the U.S. Department of Education. Depending on the program, changing majors can delay graduation, resulting in extra tuition costs. Thanks to his own webinars, Syngol was able to narrow down what he’d like to major in, deciding between data science or biomedical engineering.
Open Gears’ Mission
Open Gears rests on four pillars: Stimulate, which is done through hosting events; Teach, which includes teaching STEM concepts at each webinar; Encourage, which includes interactive activities at each event; and Motivate which includes being motivating by each speaker.
Advice highlights from each webinar are featured on the website’s Wisdom Wall.
And because Syngol believes that “education shouldn’t come at a cost,” every webinar is free. “It should be accessible to everybody. And that’s something that I try to make Open Gears a priority for.”
Looking Towards The Future
The organization has grown steadily over the past year, going from just two viewers at each webinar, to 20 viewers. But Syngol doesn’t plan on stopping there. Eventually, he hopes to grow the nonprofit to include speakers in careers beyond STEM, including the arts, business and finance.
“Each time I walk out of my desk after hosting the webinar, I just think to myself, ‘wow. I learned a ton that I never knew before about this field,’ said Syngol. “And I’m sure that a lot of my attendees also feel the same way that they picked up something new that they’ve never even thought about in the first place.”
Naperville News 17’s Becky Budds Reports.
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