The Milwaukee Bucks next week will co-host a STEM academy for girls in a move that targets both growth in the team’s fan base and community engagement.
The Bucks, Milwaukee School of Engineering and Milwaukee Public Schools Foundation partnered on the event. The 28 participating girls from four MPS schools will be housed at MSOE for the week.
The academy comes as stakeholders look to increase the number of women pursuing the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. During the academy, MSOE professors and staff will teach lessons on the STEM fields. Topics will include coding and computer science, architecture and construction management and biomedical engineering and medicine.
The students will participate in sessions with professionals from the Bucks, GE Healthcare, Eppstein Uhen Architects and Rockwell Automation.
The academy will also include a “Shark Tank” style pitch event, in which the students will work in groups to find a solution to a problem in society. They will present their solutions to local entrepreneurs and innovators, the Bucks said.
Arvind Gopalratnam, the Bucks’ vice president of corporate social responsibility, said the organization is more than a basketball team and wants to show youth in the community the ways they can engage with professional sports that have nothing to do with competing.
“We have a passion for wanting to educate, entertain and connect with youth in our community,” Gopalratnam said.
An organization like the Bucks integrates the STEM fields in multiple ways, he said. When the Bucks built and launched a new arena, for example, a number of STEM principles came into play.
Gopalratnam said the Bucks organization engages the community with events like the upcoming STEM academy for two main reasons. For one, he said, these events are an opportunity to grow the team’s fan base.
In addition, he said, such events are a reflection of Bucks culture. Community engagement and social responsibility are core parts of that culture, he said.
“We do a lot of this, truly, to build a stronger relationship with our community,” Gopalratnam said. “Our community faces a lot of challenges. We firmly believe that it takes a village to help address those challenges. One of the roles we can play is extending ourselves to the community to create that connection point.”