2023-24 President's Message

Scott Nichols

As I prepare to step into the role of ITEEA president, I am filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and humility. I extend my sincere thanks to the dedicated members of ITEEA for entrusting me with this significant responsibility. It is a tremendous honor to serve as the president of an organization that plays a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of technology and engineering (T&E) education. I am grateful for the support and encouragement from my colleagues, mentors, and the ITEEA community, and I am eager to contribute to the continued growth and excellence of our association. Together, let us embark on a journey of innovation, collaboration, and progress, ensuring that ITEEA remains at the forefront of advancing technology and engineering education for the benefit of students, educators, and the broader community.


For those unfamiliar with my background, let me introduce myself. I embarked on my journey in the field of education in 2010 as a resident teacher in the Baltimore County Public Schools system, transitioning from the financial industry. Despite lacking formal teacher training or certification, my initial role required me to leverage my strong qualification in mathematics. My inaugural experience in the classroom, working directly with students, proved to be an intriguing and enlightening year. As I taught high school math, the school administration presented an unexpected opportunity to diversify my courses, focusing on engineering and computer science—areas aligned with my skillset honed during my undergraduate studies in the realm of pure mathematics.


After a few years of leadership in the STEM Department, emphasizing technology and engineering education, computer science, and robotics, I took on a significant role as the Technology and Engineering Education Supervisor at the Maryland State Department of Education. Collaborating with Maryland's 24 districts to ensure the growth and success of their technology and engineering programs became a pivotal experience. Witnessing the broad impact that quality programs had on students' experiences and futures fueled my commitment. This role was particularly timely as the demand for computer science in K-12 schools soared. Maryland has consistently led in integrating computer science, engineering, and technology education into the general education of every student. Presently, alongside my involvement in technology and engineering education, I closely collaborate with postsecondary partners to enhance and nurture their STEM degree options.


Throughout my career, I've been fortunate to engage in various opportunities, such as developing state standards, spearheading Maryland's initiative to ensure high-quality computer science in every public middle and high school and participating in external organizations and initiatives like the National Academies, the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) Technology and Engineering Literacy, and the Smithsonian Science Education Center, where I serve as a mentor. I am genuinely thrilled to take on the role of your incoming president and consider this opportunity among the most significant in my career.


I proudly joined ITEEA in 2015 and have been a consistent participant in every conference since 2016. I attended the 2016 conference initially due to its proximity to my office, but I am grateful that I did. That experience provided me with a comprehensive view of ITEEA's impactful work, spanning from K-12 standards and curriculum to establishing connections with industry partners and teacher preparation programs in postsecondary education. The energy and enthusiasm exhibited by attendees, whether educators or groups of TEECA students gearing up for competitions, were truly inspiring. Over the past eight years, I have witnessed ITEEA's remarkable growth, which includes the introduction of resources tailored for elementary school classrooms, successful partnerships with diverse companies and organizations, and the provision of an industry-recognized credential through professional learning opportunities. With ITEEA positioned at the heart of these positive developments, the natural question arises: where do we direct our focus and energies next?


A Focus on Impact

Focusing on the impact of T&E education is pivotal for propelling ITEEA forward in its mission to shape the future of education. By prioritizing the tangible outcomes and real-world applications of our efforts, we can demonstrate the value and relevance of technology education in addressing contemporary challenges. Emphasizing impact involves tracking the success stories of our students, showcasing their achievements, and highlighting how their education has translated into meaningful contributions to society. This narrative not only attracts attention but also serves as a powerful advocacy tool, illustrating the crucial role that ITEEA plays in shaping the next generation of innovators and problem solvers.


Moreover, a focus on impact allows ITEEA to align its goals with the evolving needs of industries and communities. By staying attuned to the changing landscape and anticipating the skills demanded by the workforce, ITEEA can tailor its programs and initiatives to ensure graduates are not just academically proficient but also equipped to make a substantial impact in their professional roles. Articulating this impact also strengthens ITEEA's position in advocating for policies that support and prioritize T&E education at local, national, and international levels.


Additionally, emphasizing the impact of technology education enhances collaboration and partnerships with industry, government, and other educational institutions. Stakeholders are more likely to engage and invest when they can clearly see the positive influence of T&E education on individuals and society. By consistently showcasing the impact, ITEEA can build a compelling narrative that attracts support, fosters collaboration, and positions the organization as a driving force in shaping the educational landscape for years to come.


Staying Ahead of the Game

Staying ahead of technology trends in T&E education is of paramount importance in preparing students for the rapidly evolving landscape of the modern world. As technology continues to advance at an unprecedented pace, integrating the latest trends into educational curricula ensures that students are equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive in the workforce. In the field of T&E, staying current is not merely an advantage but a necessity, as outdated skills can quickly become obsolete, hindering professional growth and competitiveness.

Integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into T&E classrooms is a transformative step that holds the potential to revolutionize the way students learn and apply their skills. By incorporating AI tools and methodologies, educators can create dynamic learning environments that simulate real-world scenarios, providing students with hands-on experience in solving complex problems. AI integration enables personalized learning experiences, catering to individual student needs and pacing, fostering a more inclusive and adaptive educational approach. Moreover, exposure to AI applications allows students to grasp the intricacies of machine learning, data analytics, and automation, preparing them for the evolving demands of the T&E sectors. Collaborative projects that incorporate AI technologies encourage teamwork and interdisciplinary skills, reflecting the collaborative nature of AI development in the professional realm. By embracing AI in the classroom, educational institutions not only enhance technical proficiency but also instill a forward-thinking mindset that aligns with the transformative influence of AI in the broader technological landscape.


The futurist Ray Kurzweil posited that “the goal of technology is to maximize human potential and enable us to achieve the unimaginable.” Embracing emerging technologies in education not only enhances students' technical proficiency but also fosters a mindset of adaptability and innovation. Exposure to cutting-edge tools, methodologies, and concepts empowers students to think critically, problem-solve creatively, and approach challenges with a forward-looking perspective. Moreover, staying abreast of technology trends enables educational institutions to collaborate effectively with industry partners, fostering a symbiotic relationship that ensures graduates are well prepared for the demands of the real-world job market. By integrating the latest advancements into the curriculum, educators can bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application, creating a learning environment that mirrors the dynamic nature of the professional landscape. Ultimately, staying ahead of technology trends in technology and engineering education is an investment in the future success of both individuals and industry.


If You Build it, They Will Come

Membership growth within ITEEA can be envisioned as a natural byproduct of building robust and relevant programs that resonate with the needs and aspirations of educators and professionals in T&E fields. Much like the famous Field of Dreams line "If you build it, they will come," creating impactful programs acts as a magnet, drawing in individuals who recognize the value of ITEEA's initiatives. When the organization develops cutting-edge resources, fosters collaborative communities, and offers innovative professional development opportunities, it inherently becomes an indispensable asset for those seeking to stay at the forefront of technology education.


By focusing on program excellence, ITEEA not only meets the current needs of its existing members but also attracts new members organically. The impact and success stories resulting from these programs serve as compelling testimonials, inspiring a wider audience to join the ITEEA community. As educators witness the tangible benefits and transformative experiences offered by ITEEA initiatives, the allure of becoming part of a dynamic and forward-thinking organization becomes increasingly irresistible.


In essence, by steadfastly concentrating on program quality and relevance, ITEEA not only enhances its current membership experience but also creates a ripple effect, drawing in new members who recognize ITEEA as a vital catalyst for professional growth, innovation, and impact in the ever-evolving landscape of technology and engineering education.


Expanding Connections

Expanding connections holds immense potential to significantly benefit ITEEA by fostering collaboration, knowledge exchange, and innovative approaches to T&E education. Beyond the traditional boundaries of our field, forging connections with disciplines that may not traditionally collaborate on technology education can bring fresh perspectives and synergies. Engaging with professionals in fields such as psychology, environmental science, or even arts and humanities can provide interdisciplinary insights that enrich our understanding of how technology education interfaces with diverse aspects of society.


By building bridges with non-traditional collaborators, ITEEA can tap into a broader network of expertise, resources, and perspectives. Collaborations with professionals from diverse fields can lead to the development of more comprehensive and inclusive educational approaches, ensuring that T&E education not only keeps pace with evolving trends but also addresses the complex challenges of the modern world. These expanded connections may also facilitate the identification of new opportunities for research, funding, and advocacy, ultimately strengthening ITEEA's position as a leader in advancing technology education. Embracing a network that extends beyond the conventional boundaries of our field reflects an understanding that the future of T&E education is intricately linked with the holistic development of individuals within a broader societal context.


Let’s Do This!
As I assume the esteemed role of the ITEEA president, I am profoundly grateful for the trust and confidence bestowed upon me by this remarkable community. The support from fellow educators and the entire ITEEA family fills me with a deep sense of appreciation. As we embark on this journey together, I am reminded of the sage words of Yoda, "Do or do not, there is no try." This quote encapsulates the spirit with which I approach this presidency—a commitment to decisive action and unwavering dedication to advancing T&E education. I am eager to lead with passion, innovation, and a collaborative spirit, inspired by the shared vision we have for the future of ITEEA. Together, let us strive to elevate our organization to new heights, fostering excellence and empowerment in technology and engineering education. See you in Memphis!


Scott Nichols is Coordinator, Postsecondary Programs in the Office of College of Career Pathways at the Maryland Department of Education. He assumed the role of ITEEA president at the 2024 Annual Conference in Memphis, TN, March 6-9, 2024.