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ALBANY, N.Y. (March 29, 2018) – UAlbany scientists are inspiring the next generation of STEM leaders through a new after school program.

Titled “DIY STEM,” the program is a partnership between The RNA Institute and Albany Boys & Girls Club, connecting the Institute’s researchers with inner city youth at three local elementary schools. For one hour every Friday afternoon through May, the children are using everyday materials to explore science concepts including engineering, design, chemistry, energy/electricity and aeronautics.

They met for the first time in early March.

“We are excited for the launch of ‘DIY STEM’ and proud to partner on this project,” said Thomas Begley, interim director of The RNA Institute. “By connecting our scientists with inner city youth, we may be able to spark an interest in STEM that otherwise would not have been possible.”

The idea for “DIY STEM” was formed last year when Tony Hoang, a UAlbany Ph.D. chemistry alum and local entrepreneur, teamed up with Patrick Doyle, CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Troy, and Justin Reuter, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Albany, to develop a local science outreach program.

Hoang, who is 29 years old, moved from Vietnam with his family at age 4. He grew up with very little and developed an interest in STEM by watching reruns of "Bill Nye the Science Guy" and fixing broken electronics from local thrift stores.

He believes “DIY STEM” can have the same impact as Bill Nye did for him.

“The goal of this program is to make science fun and serve as a positive influencer,” Hoang said. “Many of these kids have never met a scientist before or have a limited understanding of STEM professionals. We want to give them confidence and encouragement. If I can become a scientist and entrepreneur, they can too.”

The program has already secured funding from the Samsung Corporation and hopes to attract more partners and sponsors in upcoming months.

You can read more about Hoang’s story through this Huffington Post article titled “How I went from Refugee to Biotech CEO.”

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