Challenges, way forward for STEM research-industry development discussed  

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Members of the Guam Science and Technology Steering Committee continue to conceptualize a plan to augment the island’s STEM capacity and sustain various industries enabled by research.  

During a meeting on Jan. 20, the members reaffirmed their objectives to serve as a center for collaborative regional and international research, increase STEM capabilities through education and workforce development, expand STEM infrastructure to support higher-level research and economic growth, utilize dynamic communication strategies to relay STEM knowledge, and cultivate a diversified economy.  

The committee also recognized the following challenge areas across each of the objectives: biomedical professions and healthcare policy; information technology and cybersecurity; sustainability and quality of life issues relative to waste management, energy, agriculture, and protection of natural resources; biosciences and technology transfer; and opportunities with the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).   

Beyond research ‘for its own sake’  

The committee oversees Guam’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) Guam Ecosystems Collaboratorium for Corals and Oceans (GECCO), as well as the Guam NASA EPSCoR program. 

“The responsibility of this committee is to try to understand what EPSCoR is about and help highlight how it could potentially affect the economy. At the same time, it feeds back to the scientist and gets them to look at the world a little bit differently other than research for its own sake. How do we identify industries and how do we identify talent? What are some real-life opportunities?” said Dr. Robert Underwood, committee vice chairperson and President Emeritus of the University of Guam (UOG).  

“Moving their activities to some of the concerns we have here, that’s the point at which we meet,” he added.   

Diversifying Guam’s economy through jobs 

Committee co-chairperson and Guam Economic Development Authority chief executive officer, Melanie Mendiola, presented models to help accomplish a diversified economy with jobs through small and large businesses in multiple industries based on researchers’ findings. 

The models established processes stemming from industry selection to government policy development and incentives, access to capital, and establishing jobs through business development, to include a process for stakeholder assemblies to identify current issues, UOG receiving funding to research those issues, and scientists then presenting the research and developing proofs of concept alongside entrepreneurs to market products, build businesses, increasing job availability.  

Mendiola and Dr. Austin Shelton, UOG Center for Island Sustainability and Sea Grant director, discussed recent products created using the invasive chain of love vine (Antigonon leptopus), such as bath bombs, fabric dye, and foods.  

“We need to find entrepreneurs willing to take the leap, have access to capital, and turn the chain of love into the next thing,” said Mendiola.  

“We want industries that have higher paying jobs, something that jives with Guam’s comparative advantage, something sustainable, environmentally, and something that’s culturally sensitive. Where can we assign processes to these, who can contribute, and how do these processes overlap with existing initiatives?” she continued.  

Sustainability in interested, committed population 

Underwood and Roderick Boss, committee co-chairperson and Docomo Pacific president, emphasized the need to plan with sustainability in mind. They explained the idea of forming interest, quality researchers, and capacity through the educational enterprise, beginning at the elementary level and being refined during years beyond. 

“The base of the pyramid has to be wider than what we think of it right now,” said Underwood. “None of this will actually amount to a whole lot because that sustainability is not the economic activity in and of itself. I think the sustainability is in who’s working at it and who is committed to it. Where do they come from, and how rooted are they in the community?”  

“The University of Guam is certainly available for helping to do this,” said Dr. Thomas Krise, UOG president. The idea of a workable example is very important just to help inspire people’s imaginations.” 

Guam EPSCoR is funded by the National Science Foundation. 

Search for Guam’s next conservation force underway 

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Guam Green Growth (G3) Conservation Corps members examine honeybee hives at a ranch on Aug. 10, 2021 in Malesso’, Guam. Christopher Rosario, a local apiarist and president of the Guam Beekeepers Association, shared his knowledge of bees and their role in island sustainability during the five-month period of the G3 Conservation Corps program.

Guam NSF EPSCoR is a catalyst for Guam Green Growth (G3). 

The call has sounded for a second crew of conservation stewards eager to further Guam’s progress in island sustainability and the emerging green economy. 

The recruitment period for the second cohort of the Guam Green Growth (G3) Conservation Corps officially began on Jan. 10, 2022. 

The G3 Conservation Corps is a five-month workforce development program that aims to advance and apply 12 corps members’ skills in the focus areas of agriculture and aquaculture, circular economy and zero waste, ocean conservation, invasive species management, reforestation and watershed restoration, energy conservation and renewable energy, and island beautification from March to August this year.  

Corps members will have the opportunity to collaborate and learn alongside teams from partnering government agencies and private organizations in support of various conservation initiatives throughout the island, while equipping themselves for a brighter future.  

“The green economy is growing on Guam, and we want to help our community prepare for the emerging workforce through this program,” said Phillip Cruz, G3 Conservation Corps coordinator. 

The first G3 Conservation Corps cohort made significant strides toward our sustainable future. They recycled over 70,000 aluminum cans, planted 2,000 food crops, collected hundreds of bags of illegally dumped waste from streets and jungles, planted 2,890 trees, installed 640 solar rooftop panels, and more. 

“The inaugural G3 Conservation Corps cohort made incredible contributions to our island’s sustainability in 2021,” said Austin Shelton, director of the University of Guam Center for Island Sustainability and Sea Grant. “We are proud of what they contributed during the program and the sustainable actions they continue to make as trained citizens. This year, we look forward to a new group of conservationists who will serve our island and inspire our community.”  

“We’re looking for individuals who are respectful, reliable, and aren’t afraid of hard work. If you would benefit from this workforce development program, please apply today. Share widely with your friends and family, who may also benefit from this program,” added Cruz. 

How to Apply 
Those interested in applying can submit their application through the G3 website at guamgreengrowth.org by Feb. 6, 2022.   

Applicants must be at least 18 years old, have reliable transportation, and be U.S. citizens, nationals, or legal residents. 

Selected applicants will be required to submit police and court clearances, purified protein derivative (PPD) skin test results, proof of full COVID-19 vaccination, submit to a drug test, and undergo a physical examination.  

G3 Conservation Corps members will receive a biweekly stipend of $1,300. Members will earn up to 80 continuing education units from the university upon successful completion of the program.  

The G3 Conservation Corps program is made possible through FY22 Guam Green Growth appropriation to the University of Guam. 

About G3 
Aligned with the 17 U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, the Guam Green Growth Initiative, or G3, cultivates an ecosystem for transformative action to achieve a sustainable, prosperous, and equitable future for Guam. The University of Guam facilitates the island-wide initiative in cooperation with the Office of the Governor of Guam and over 100 members of the G3 Working Group, representing all sectors of society.  Guam Green Growth in funded in part by NSF Guam EPSCoR.

Come spark new industries in new Guam Green Growth Makerspace

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Entrepreneurs and creators throughout the island can put their innovative abilities to work and transform waste into marketable products at one convenient location in the coming weeks.  

The Guam Green Growth (G3) Circular Economy Makerspace and Innovation Hub will celebrate its grand opening to the public at 3:30 p.m. January 13, 2022, out of three houses at the CHamoru Village in Hagåtña.  

The spaces will provide creators resources to upcycle items and materials in contribution to Guam’s emerging green economy. Moreover, the effort will help address the overreliance on imported products and increased amount of waste generated locally.  

Alongside a green store and innovation hub offering local merchandise for the environmentally conscious and guidance for those seeking business advisement, the maker space house features an abundance of tools capable of processing wood, metal, various other materials, and plastic in a third house devoted to world-renowned Precious Plastic machines. 

For a fee, creators can access a laser cutter, computer numerical control router, 3D printer, vinyl cutter, and apparatuses to shred, extrude, inject, press, and melt plastic, among other convenient equipment. Patrons can avail of the services for $50 per month or $500 per year with a 20% discount applicable to yearly memberships.  

The G3 Circular Economy Makerspace and Innovation Hub also supports G3’s mission toward establishing sustainable and profitable cottage industries, improving the performance of enterprise facilitation and development programs, and supporting regional economic development.  

The center’s managing and support staff are seasoned in business and product development and are willing to share their skills and knowledge with those utilizing the spaces. Those eager to learn can attend creative workshops and hear from members of the University of Guam (UOG) School of Business and Public Administration, Guam Unique Merchandise and Arts, the Small Business Development Center, and the Guam Economic Development Authority. Additionally, products created can be sold in the green store on consignment.  

Myracle Mugol, G3 circular economy coordinator, sees the operation as a place to grow with like-minded people and convenient resources, what she says can be missing factors for ideas to come to fruition.  

 “When people ask me about the space and all the things that come with it, I tell them it’s my three Cs of G3: curation of equipment, tools, and workshops to make our ideas happen; collaboration with development and resource partners, who assist with the innovation and expansion into business and cooperatives; and community – the people surrounding these spaces, who allow for ideas to grow, develop, and move,” said Mugol. 

“The community is the support and backbone for sustainability; the very change-makers who push the culture needed for the initiatives to move forward,” she continued.  

“Our team looks forward to the opening of the G3 Circular Economy Makerspace and Innovation Hub and all the creative products that will be developed by our talented community,” stated Dr. Austin Shelton, director of the UOG Center for Island Sustainability and Sea Grant. “The hub will reduce our island’s waste and diversify our economy through the stimulation of new green industries.”  

The G3 Circular Economy Makerspace and Innovation Hub is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research Guam Ecosystems Collaboratorium for Corals and Oceans, better known as EPSCoR GECCO, GEDA, and the Office of the Governor.  

Ahead of the January 13 grand opening, the Guam Green Growth Circular Economy Makerspace and Innovation Hub is currently open for small tours which can be arranged via email to mugolm@triton.uog.edu. 

About G3 
Aligned with the 17 U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, the Guam Green Growth Initiative, or G3, cultivates an ecosystem for transformative action to achieve a sustainable, prosperous, and equitable future for Guam. The University of Guam facilitates the island-wide initiative in cooperation with the Office of the Governor of Guam and the 99 members of the G3 Working Groups, representing all sectors of society.