About Dr. John Drazan
Dr. John Drazan is a Lecturer in biomedical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. In addition to his biomedical research, John is the STEM director for 4th Family Inc., where he engages urban students in STEM outreach using sports science and analytics. As STEM director, John has assembled a diverse team of academics, teachers, basketball coaches, and players united by a common goal of broadening educational opportunity for our youth through a shared love of sports. His work in STEM outreach has won several major awards including the “Best Research Paper” at the MIT-Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, the NSF GK12 Fellowship, and the NIH-IRACDA Postdoctoral Fellowship.
The use of science and analytics within pro sports as a competitive advantage has exploded in the past decade. Despite this trend, sport science is not used to engage diverse youth in STEM. Youth are recruited into STEM fields primarily through stereotypical “nerdy” activities such as robotics competitions. This prevents the engagement of youth, namely females and students of color, who do not conform to the “nerdy white male” archetype. As a former D3 basketball player with a PhD in engineering, I have combined my love of basketball and STEM to create the 4th STEM outreach program that authentically brings STEM into basketball as a training tool. We have used these training tools to broaden the appeal of STEM for thousands of urban youth. We reach these marginalized youth by incorporating STEM topics such as data collection and maker spaces into youth sports. This allows us to engage youth without a preexisting interest in STEM, thus broadening participation into new populations