The academy, which Principal Eric Watson described as a “school within a school,” aims to provide a student-centered interdisciplinary education, focused on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics while engaging students to think critically and compete globally.
Students involved with the academy participate in technology, science, math or art related clubs and receive mentoring from guest speakers like Chatterjee.
He talked to the students about his academic career, as well as his professorship at the University of Georgia, and then discussed how students today will affect technology tomorrow.
Originally from Kolkata, India, Chatterjee said when he first started to pursue his bachelor’s degree in the U.S. he wanted to be a physician, but quickly became interested in technology.
“I grew up in a family that valued an education and took studying and learning very seriously,” he said.
Chatterjee recommended that the students spend at least three hours a day pursuing their passions and learning outside of the classroom.
“Make sure you take advantage of the opportunities of a program like this because you’re laying a strong foundation for your future,” he said.
Chatterjee also presented examples of where technology will take students in the future.
“In your lifetime, you will see 3D printers making human organs and every object will have some form of computerized intelligence in it,” he said.
The academy students also asked various questions about if and when technology could replace them and what they could do to prevent it.
“Always be creative because a robot can never have a mind like you. If there is one thing you take away from this session today, always be creative,” Chatterjee said.
He also encouraged the students to keep pursuing their visions and dreams.
About 40 freshmen and sophomores were the first to experience the STEAM Academy program.
Juniors will be added to the mix next school year.
By 2016, all grade levels at the high school will be able to experience the program.