The Science Behind STEM in Georgia

On the weekend of 23-24 April 2016, San Diego State University’s Georgia contingent hosted an event for prospective students, foreign dignitaries and educational officials. In attendance were Tamar Sanikidze, Georgia’s Minister of Education, American embassy officials, SDSU academics and the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Resident Country Director, Jenner Edelman.

A series of lectures followed opening remarks by SDSU, MCC and Education Ministry executives. Prospective students took part in a number of STEM activities related to general science, physics, and electrical and computer engineering. A home assignment concerning students’ domestic use of gas and electricity was also issued. The results of this were then displayed the following day, with ways in which Georgia could be more energy efficient being discussed; a vital topic for Georgia, especially with the country’s gas deficit causing a minor political storm this winter.

Dr. Ken Walsh, Dean of San Diego State University Georgia, then delivered a lecture on construction, with an efficiency exercise then given to students to complete in groups. Dr. Walsh drew particular attention to the ways in which construction work in Georgia can be improved. In comparison with Western standards, the building industry in Georgia falls especially short in the fields of safety and efficiency. Unlike in the West, Georgian building projects are completed in stages, as opposed to work in various areas being carried out simultaneously; this extends the length of the project unnecessarily. Many in Georgia will also be unfamiliar with the unsafe nature of construction work, something which is obvious even at a glance of most Georgian builders at work.

The students then listened to Professor Bill Tong deliver a lecture that covered a range of STEM-related issues. Using chemistry and physics to discover the true artist behind Renaissance-era paintings was accompanied by ways in which STEM technology is used in neuroscience to alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. Even military applications were highlighted; with Professor Tong displaying how cutting edge laser technology is being used to detect roadside bombs and improvised explosive devices in conflict zones.

STEM education and research will aid Georgia in the plethora of ways which SDSU demonstrated over the weekend. However, the biggest benefit will come in having American-educated Georgians living and working in their homeland.

“An SDSU degree is undoubtedly the best opportunity for me,” said Keti, a prospective student. “I can get an American diploma without having to leave my country.”

Unlike many other Western-educated Georgians, however, most SDSU candidates have no intention of leaving Georgia for Western salaries. “I want to help my country, to develop it and make it better,” said Giorgi, another student. “An SDSU education will give me the knowledge I need to do that.”

After such an extensive series of lectures covering everything from household gas consumption to neuroscience, one would find it difficult to disagree.

Tim Ogden

28 April 2016 21:49