Monday, July 22, 2013

Why is STEM Education So Important to the U.S.?

Science. Technology. Engineering. Mathematics. These are the building blocks of a sound education, the foundation for productive citizenship and social contribution. STEM promotes ideas and innovation. STEM equips our future workforce with the critical thought and mental ability to take on skilled jobs that promote economic growth and technological advancement. But the U.S. has a lot of catching up to do.

America ranks 52nd in the world in the quality of math and science education. A recent survey found that just 2 percent of American high schoolers knew what a computer scientist's job entails. And 61 percent expressed no interest in a science or technical field.

Though programs like FIRST Robotics, NASA and trade organizations including the National Association of Manufacturers have campaigned long and hard to raise the public profile of STEM careers and classes, there's a long way to go.

Companies like ours, manufacturing-engineering firms with a longstanding history of technological breakthroughs, have a responsibility to make the field appeal to the next generation. The next batch of interns, of science fair entrants, they're the ones we will employ not too many years from now. What can we do to pique their interest?

"The United States was founded in a culture of curiosity, creativity and a can-do spirit," says Theresa Maldonado, of the National Science Foundation Division of Engineering Education and Centers, in a press statement. "Today's conversation is about helping students realize the connection between STEM and that enduring spirit. STEM education is vital to enable anyone and everyone to contribute, in his or her own way, to the great future of our country. Empowerment is the first step, and the National Science Foundation is here to support inspiring approaches to success."

We stand with Maldonado on that point. And we do our best to live up to it by not only supporting programs like FIRST (#OMGrobots) and local science fairs, by accepting interns and mentoring up-and-coming tinkerers and makers.

To illustrate the importance of STEM, we designed an infographic on the topic, highlighting the perks of securing a job in the manufacturing-tech field. Take a look at it right here!

[ What's one way your company is promoting STEM education?] Tell us in the comments!