STEM Career Spotlight

Current Spotlight

Ms. Kim Cook-Boyd - Computer Science

This month, we are shining a light on one of our newest State GYSTC Board Members, Ms. Kim Cook-Boyd. Ms. Cook-Boyd describes herself as “truly a ‘Girl Geek’, an engineer, and a computer scientist who is passionate about technology, science, tech gadgets, artificial intelligence, gaming, and her community. In the early 80s, she was part of the first data processing “coding” graduating class at Norman Thomas High School in New York City. After attending New York Institute of Technology, she was the first women from her campus to receive a bachelor’s degree in electrical/mechanical engineering. Ms. Cook-Boyd’s passion and education in STEM led her to a career opportunity within IBM. Her first job was an IBM Customer Engineer. She was the first woman hired in this dept to fix large system computers in New York City which later positioned her to gain a new job opportunity within IBM in Atlanta in the early 1990s. Today, she is the Global Practice Delivery Manager for Artificial Intelligence and Business Automation for IT operations at IBM. She has 30+ years of IT experience. Kim is actively involved in the community and schools promoting STEM/STEAM by coaching, advising and engaging k-12 students on how technology is exciting and help build confidence in students’ problem-solving skills through STEM workshops/hands-on activities. Kim participated in the IBM Corporate Service Corp program, helping students and the Social Institute with upgrading their computer systems in Nagpur, India. Currently, Kim serves on the board as the VP of Outreach for Society of Women Engineers (SWE), SWE collegiate advisor for Spelman college, a member of the Principal Council at a local elementary school in Cobb County and is the committee lead for the IBM Employee Engagement and Business Resource Groups (diversity groups).

We are excited to share the Be a Computer Scientist lesson with your students so that they can explore working in the computer science field just like Ms. Cook-Boyd!

Explore the Field of Computer Science

Kim Cook Boyd

All STEM Career Spotlights

Mrs. Kathleen Atkins - Aerospace Engineer

eKathleen Atkins portrait

Since February includes special holidays like International Women and Girls in Science Day as well as National Engineers Week, we choose to spotlight our State Board Chair Mrs. Kathleen Atkins.

Mrs. Atkins graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Cincinnati and Master’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology. She began her career as an engineer in a modeling and simulation group for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company. The simulation group coded the aircraft characteristics and basically played war games with computer models! Now, as a program manager on the C-130 program, she is responsible for ensuring that Lockheed meets all the objectives of their contracts with their customer as well as their company financial goals. She oversees all aspects from negotiating multi-million dollar contracts to building and delivering aircraft to ensuring that they provide the products and services that their customers need to operate their aircraft. Her career has provided the opportunity to travel around the world! She is currently working on programs with the French Air Force, supporting a major upgrade to their legacy C-130H aircraft and managing production of the new C-130J aircraft expanding their Hercules fleet to meet their current operational needs.

Share this lesson with your students so that they can be an aerospace engineer just like Mrs. Atkins!

Be an Aerospace Engineer - Lesson

Ms. Alicia Brandon - Computer Science

This month, we are shining a light on one of our State GYSTC Board Members, Ms. Alicia Brandon. Ms. Brandon is an ESG Sales Enablement Leader for the Americas at Dell Technologies. In her current role, Ms. Brandon enables people in marketing and sales with the ability to tell Dell’s social impact story for bigger impact in their deals. Prior to joining Dell, Ms. Brandon worked at IBM for 13.5 years and held various roles in Corporate Social Responsibility/social impact, marketing and sales. She was integral in bringing the very first IBM owned P-TECH program to the state of Georgia in 2021. P–TECH is a public-education model that provides high school students from underserved backgrounds with the academic, technical, and professional skills and credentials they need for competitive STEM jobs. 

Ms. Brandon has a strong passion for social justice, women’s rights, equity in education, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and diversity and inclusion. She has organized conversations and participated in panels to discuss these topics. As well as serving on GYSTC's State Board of Directors, Ms. Brandon serves on the Board of Visitors for Emory University, and is a Founding Board Member of ACE Academy. She is a current co-lead of the Community Initiatives committee for the Black Network Alliance Atlanta Chapter of Dell Technologies Employees.

Ms. Brandon also believes in "paying it forward" and mentors and coaches young girls who aspire to work in STEM careers. She is also a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and a graduate of Tuskegee University where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Sales and Marketing. She is the mom of a rambunctious female Yorkshire Terrier named Parker. Ms. Brandon is a budding entrepreneur who launched a pet apparel brand called HBCU Pets on Juneteenth 2022.

We are excited to share the Binary Coding Bracelets lesson with your students so that they can explore working in the computer science industry like Ms. Brandon!


Explore the Computer Science Industry


Mr. Keith Crandell - Chemistry

Keith Crandall

This month, we are shining a light on one of our State GYSTC Board Members, Mr. Keith Crandell. Mr. Crandall is the Georgia Department of Education Science Program Manager and governs public education in Georgia, supporting school districts to serve the whole child. Keith is affiliated with Georgia Science Supervisors Association, Georgia Science Teachers Association, and the Council of State Science Supervisors. He is a Georgia Certified Educator in multiple areas. Keith’s interest is to support GYSTC with science education around the state and to establish opportunities for collaboration with the Georgia Department of Education.

Mr. Crandall studied chemistry at the University of Georgia, and there, gained a passion for science education. As a classroom teacher, Mr. Crandall’s goal was for students to recognize and appreciate the chemistry that is all around them. His work was recognized by the American Chemical Society by receiving the Chemistry Teacher of the Year for the Northeast Georgia Chapter. With exciting projects, labs, and challenging problems, Mr. Crandall’s classroom was a place where chemistry came alive!

We are excited to share the Candy Corn Chemistry lesson with your students so that they can explore working in the science field just like Mr. Crandell!

Explore the Field of Chemistry

Mr. Victor Rundquist - Electrial Engineer

This month, we are shining a light on our West GYSTC Board Chair, Mr. Victor Rundquist. Mr. Rundquist started his studies at DeAnza College in Cupertino, CA a mere 1 mile from Apple’s headquarters. While there he spent 3 years at NASA Ames. As an intern at NASA, he spent time working on the very first WIFI networks and even spent a summer in the Artic studying mobile computer networks. After taking the opportunity to work for NASA, he transferred to Auburn University where he received a bachelor’s degree in Wireless Engineering and a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering. During graduate school he restructured a radio lab where he taught undergraduate students to build their own working AM/FM radios. They even had their own small scale FM radio station for testing.


Through his exposure at NASA and Auburn University one of the things Mr. Rundquist learned very well was the ability to learn. His job at Southwire has him delving into the areas of material science, metallurgical science and even some biology (even though his formal training is in electrical engineering). He is responsible for the research and product development of Southwire products on the metallic side of the business. His job has him becoming an expert in all the areas of our copper, aluminum, steel, and even lead materials. Having the ability and drive to always learn new things keeps Mr. Rundquist on top of his tasks every day. He spends time Southwire’s plants helping with day-to-day issues and implementation of new products and manufacturing processes. As an R&D engineer he even gets the opportunity to invent new things. He currently has 6 patents granted with a few more pending.

We are excited to share the lesson, Be an Electrical Engineer with your students so that they can see what it is like to be an Electrical Engineer just like Mr. Rundquist!

Be an Electrical Engineer - Lesson

Dr. Michele Smith - Environmental Engineer

This month, in honor of Earth Day on Friday April 22, 2022, we are shining a light on one of our Chattahoochee-Flint GYSTC Board Members, Dr. Michele Smith. Dr. Smith is the Professor of Chemistry and STEM Coordinator at Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus, GA. She received her bachelor’s degree from Wilson College with a major in Chemistry and a minor in Biology. She received her Ph.D. from Auburn University in Inorganic Chemistry.

Dr. Smith is involved with the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream program as a local community coordinator for the Lower Flint River Watershed. The Georgia Adopt-A-Stream program is Georgia’s volunteer water quality monitoring program. She started as a chemical and bacterial monitoring volunteer in 2014 and became a community coordinator in 2016. As a community coordinator, she trains and certifies individuals who are interested in chemical and bacterial monitoring of their local waterways. Chemical monitoring involves determination of water temperature, pH, conductivity, dissolved oxygen levels, alkalinity, phosphates, and nitrates. Bacterial monitoring is utilized to determine levels of E. coli in surface waters, since E. coli since high levels may indicated potential pathogens. Since becoming a community coordinator, she has had the privilege of working with K-8 teachers in the Chattahoochee-Flint GYSTC region, Georgia Southwestern students, area residents, members of local homeowner’s associations, local business owners, and staff from the Flint Riverkeeper, Flint RiverQuarium, and Chehaw Park and Zoo.

As the STEM Coordinator for Georgia Southwestern, Dr. Smith has been able to interact with K-8 students in the Chattahoochee-Flint GYSTC area and speak with them on a variety of environmental topics. Her favorite topics are water quality and pollution, ultraviolet light and the ozone layer, and recycling the plastics that we use in our everyday lives. She is always amazed at the knowledge that students possess about the environment and their eagerness to learn even more.


Be an Environmental Engineer - Lesson

Dr. Dana Neacsu - Medical Doctor


This month, in honor of National Doctor's Day, we are shining a light on one of our State Board Members Dr. Dana Neacsu.

Dr. Neacsu is Board Certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. She completed her residency in Internal Medicine at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, affiliated with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She is a recipient of The Joseph Caltabiano Award for Professionalism in Medicine. Early in her career, she was a teaching associate and instructed students from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Later, she was an instructor within the medicine clinical track at the Emory University School of Medicine, teaching physicians’ assistants. She was compelled to learn more about integrative medicine so she applied and was later accepted to the University of Arizona Integrative Medicine Fellowship, one of the oldest and most respected programs of its nature in the country. Currently, Dr. Neacsu is one of few Practitioners in Atlanta who completed the Kalish Institute Advanced Functional Medicine course, which now utilize his treatment protocol for treating various conditions including adrenal fatigue. She opened her own practice in Atlanta, Medical Creations Integrative Medicine, in order to better treat patients’ root medical issues instead of just focusing on their symptoms. She believes that by integrating elements of healing, therapy, wellness, nutrition, stress reduction, and other practices, that patients will start to see real, lasting results and improvements to their health.

We are excited to share this lesson with your students so that they see what it is like to be a Medical Doctor just like Dr. Neacsu!

Be a Medical Doctor - Lesson

GYSTC Regional Coordinators and State Staff - STEM Teachers

This month, we are shining a light on our Regional Coordinators and State Staff. We would not be the organization we are today without the true dedication that it takes from our Regional Coordinators and the program staff at the State Office. Each of our coordinators comes from various educational backgrounds, but one thing that remains consistent is their love for teaching and helping inspire our next generation.

We want to thank LaTrina Howell of Central GYSTC; Emily Anne Strickland of Chattahoochee-Flint GYSTC; Robert (Bob) Young of Etowah GYSTC; Valarie Ages-Lockett of Gordon GYSTC; Erin Youmans of Magnolia Midlands GYSTC; Will Dodd of Oconee River GYSTC; Tammy Nowell of Southwest GYSTC; Cathy Fontenot of West GYSTC; and Amanda Buice, Jenna Henkel, Lynn Larsen, and Pam Parks of the GYSTC State Office.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022 is National Teacher Day. We applaud all of our Georgia Educators and are excited to share this lesson with your students so that they see what it is like to be a STEM teacher just like our coordinators!

Be a STEM Teacher - Lesson

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