A survey from ASQ shows that US Youth are Reluctant to Pursue STEM Careers. This report emphasizes the problem we have in the US with not enough students pursuing careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). STEM careers are what dry today's economy and will solve the issues and problems of the world. The US used to be a powerhouse in this area, but has lost ground to other countries. We, as educators, need to help and encourage students into these fields.
Students surveyed did say that STEM careers offered the best chance of getting a job in the future. But, they were concerned about obstacles that they would face. The obstacles: cost and time to get a degree in STEM is too high, their grades in STEM subjects aren't good enough, and STEM degree careers involve too much work and studying compared to other careers.
As an engineer (Worcester Polytechnic Institute 1992, Aerospace Engineering and 10 years as an engineer before becoming an educator, and still do consulting work) I would like to address these. First, you can attend in-expensive state schools and get an excellent engineering education. Second, as educators we need to help students improve their abilities and achievement in STEM subjects by changing how many of these classes are taught. The third one is an issue for me. Yes, STEM careers are hard and require a lot of studying and work. But this "obstacle" makes me think these students are lazy or uninformed. How many times do we hear students talking about become doctors, lawyers, nurses, accountants? These areas are part of STEM, yet many students don't think so. How many students actually understand that most college majors require a lot of work and effort?
As an engineering major, I had to do a lot of studying and work, especially with all the projects we did. But, I still got to be involved in other activities and have fun. After four years of college, I was able to get an excellent job in my career field. Many other careers required more education after your Bachelor's. Look at Social Work. You need a Master's degree and make half of what an engineer does.
STEM subjects and careers are very important to the world. We, as educators, need to encourage and help our students get interested in and pursue STEM careers. Have STEM career professionals visit your class. Take your class on a trip to see STEM professionals in action. Have STEM college majors who are graduates of your school come and visit and talk to students. Explore STEM careers in your classroom.
The world needs scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians. Let's help our students become them.
STEM - description, ideas and resources for educators
STEM Resources for Educators
How to Turn a Teen into an Engineer
WPI Plan - A Great Educational Model for all Education
Engineering Resources for K-12
More Engineering Resources for K-12