The search for scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians has become a major focus for many government and business sectors. Instead of competing for the small pool of graduates in these disciplines, disparate industries are now joining forces to develop the talent they will ultimately need.
Representatives from more than 50 companies, associations, professional societies, philanthropic and education organizations, as well as government advisors, attended the March 12 launch of the Business and Industry STEM Education Coalition at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.
Spearheaded by the Aerospace Industries Association and the National Defense Industrial Association STEM education work force committee and division, the coalition’s charter states its purpose as being to “enhance and elevate the U.S. commitment to science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and facilitate STEM education through private and public partnerships.”
With a target audience of students, teachers and employers, and a goal to double the number of STEM undergraduates from 200,000 to 400,000 by 2020, the coalition members will promote best practices via traditional and social media.
Student focus will be on bringing “proven project-based, hands-on STEM experiential learning activities to a national scale” and align them with national goals for STEM education. The focus on teachers will be to recruit, train and retain them; and for employers to nurture students with STEM aptitudes and create career tracks, especially for underrepresented groups.
In addition to increasing the number of STEM graduates, the coalition has three other goals.
First is to leverage and align its activities and resources to achieve employer engagement in all 50 states. Next is to enhance the quality and impact of business-led or supported STEM programs to increase U.S. student achievement. Last is to create media campaigns that publicize member industries’ scientific and technical achievements in the quest to attract more businesses, associations, teachers and students to the STEM movement.
An additional focus of the coalition is to evaluate the effectiveness and progress of STEM programs to see how successful they are in helping to reach work force goals for 2020.
The coalition’s members are volunteers and are administered by a core planning group. An open forum and annual meeting will be held in 2011 to assess and publicize the coalition’s progress.
Business and industry organizations representing employers in STEM-related fields may join the coalition. Representatives from professional associations, government entities, and STEM stakeholders are also welcomed as members and advisory members.
All parties interested in joining the Business and Industry STEM Education Coalition may do so by contacting Britt Bommelje, at firstname.lastname@example.org. To view the coalition charter and a list of current members, log on to www.ndia.org/stem.Cynthia D. Miller is president of Miller.Omni.Media, Inc., a woman-owned small business specializing in strategic communications, marketing and media production. She can be reached at email@example.com.