Symposium Success Inspires Students
(March 27, 2023) -If you see Dr. Ebrahim Khosravi in the halls of Clayton State’s College of Information and Mathematical Sciences, and he’s grinning from ear to ear, it’s probably because he’s thinking about the notable growth that he believes the university is about to experience.
While the college’s upcoming Launchpad Leadership Academy will be opening soon, he sees the potential for massive growth in the wake of the school’s second annual CIMS Symposium – an extension of the academy and an event that recently hosted keynote speakers, Clayton State faculty and students, and numerous industry leaders.
Khosravi said about 700 combined Clayton State and local high school students were on hand this year – more than double the number of students who attended last year’s Symposium.
“The [reasoning] behind the event is to bring industry, government, students, and faculty under the same roof so they can brainstorm about workforce development,” Khosravi said.
The near 500 registered Clayton State students at the event were able to absorb presentations from faculty on Mathematics and Archival Studies, while also presenting their own discussions on Robotics, and Computer Science and Information Technology.
Khosravi said the Symposium granted students an outlet to show off those works and more for both the local and greater community, which in turn promoted both the minds and the university behind the presentations.
He also said it built further trust between Clayton State and surrounding organizations that Laker Nation is producing great assets to the next generation of Georgia’s workforce.
“We are getting the word out to the community [and] industry downtown to tell the Clayton State story,” Khosravi said. “We brought in Google, ADP, Colonial Pipeline – a lot of companies.”
In just the Symposium’s second year, it was a stark contrast from its debut conference in 2022.
The first event last March was held to just one day and no high schoolers were invited to attend. This year, the symposium was split into two days – the first exclusively for Clayton State students; the second for high school students.
Megan Postell, the Executive Assistant to the Dean of CIMS, said that having potential future students in attendance this year added a whole new layer of exposure to Clayton State University.
“[On] the high school day, a lot of students were, like, ‘I didn’t even think about applying for college, but I didn’t know you had this,’” Postell said. “We had a room set up where students could go in and apply for Clayton State [on the spot]. We had a student panel where they could ask our current students and CIMS majors, ‘Do you think I could do it?’”
A boost in determination among students is something Dr. Khosravi has noticed, as well, noting that they can learn how to better their communication skills when presenting their work to faculty, their peers, and possible future employers.
“It builds their confidence that you can compete in those types of arenas and be able to talk about it,” Khosravi said. “It’s very important [to] be able to do something and then explain it. You can have technology in your hand [but] if you don’t know how to use it, it’s worthless. Communication has become very important – they learn that. That’s why the students are here.”
Postell, like Khosravi, also noticed natural growth in students from when the event began to when it closed.
One particular recurring moment in which she saw this came from what many may not even consider part of the Symposium at all.
“For registration, we gave everybody name tags and [listed] their college major,” Postell said. “There were a couple of students who saw it and were, like, ‘Wow, that’s the first time I’ve seen my name next to Computer Science or Information Technology.’ It was cool for them to have an identity with their major. Hopefully, whenever they graduate, they can have confidence [in] what they’re doing.”
As many professors and staff can attest, with confidence comes growth.
And growth is exactly what is coming to the CIMS 3rd Annual Symposium in March 2024.
Everything from the scale of the event to the number of students invited to professional attendance – Khosravi only sees a brighter future on the horizon for both the annual conference and the university, itself.
“We have more [industries] who want to be part of this,” Khosravi said. “[This] Symposium is a starting point for people to say, ‘that’s an icon.’ You can go there and meet big companies – Fortune 1000 companies.”
The CIMS Dean further said that the third symposium will also be set up how he wants the fourth one to be organized and that, gradually, fees may be introduced to help build revenue for the College of Information and Mathematical Sciences. He also hopes revenue could build greater advertisement for the event throughout both Atlanta and greater Georgia.
Said advertisements could then generate more revenue for creating scholarships and financial aid for more potential future students, which Khosravi wants to see larger numbers of next year. He said the feeling must be mutual, as several local high schools that didn't attend immediately reached out to him following the end of this year’s conference.
For both he and Postell, building up students to be at their best is what they hope the Symposium will accomplish as it continues to grow alongside both present and future Clayton State students in the years to come.
“To be able to put their name with that major [and] say, ‘yes, you do belong here,’ – it builds confidence with students,” Postell said. “Hopefully they can look at CIMS and Clayton State and think of opportunity. I think [the Symposium] harbored that environment.”
“The students who want to come here, you’re providing a map for them – a way to look [into] their future,” Khosravi said. “They can see the end results before they even start. When they come here, it’s easier to get mixed into the culture and become part of this.”