WashingtonExec is pleased to announce the formation of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Council. The Council was created to provide a forum for effective interaction in our area between government, government contracting, academia, and like-minded parents to strengthen the national security STEM workforce.
The U.S. is not turning out the engineering students needed to compete as an innovative country on the world stage. Skill levels in science and math among students coming out of high school are not always competitive. Moreover, there are not enough U.S. students who are interested in the STEM fields. In particular, this lack of preparation has an impact on the government contracting community to hire compelling individuals who can obtain the required clearances to work on critical and mission-oriented programs.
The WashingtonExec STEM Council kickoff event, held January 16, featured Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST) Principal Dr. Evan Glazer as guest speaker. Dr. Glazer, who has also served as a mathematics teacher and research professor, spoke of how high school education can serve as a catalyst for fostering future STEM leaders around the country.
Attendees ranged from corporate executives at large companies, government executives, nonprofit founders, to educators and TJHSST alumni. Topics discussed included: how to foster partnerships within academia, industry and government, how to create communities to better promote and foster STEM educators and citizens, how to direct students on critical technology paths (that do not exist currently), and how to begin the slow process of systematic change within the current U.S. education system.
Dr. Glazer also provided participants with an update on successful programs at TJHSST, and how those in industry can engage more with its students. STEMbassadors is a program where students are given the opportunity to give back to the local community; this could include coaching a robotics team at an elementary school, or volunteering with a local nonprofit. The school also has summer extension programs for middle school students in the region, where STEM professionals can offer workshops or corporations can sponsor scholarships. For its own students, TJHSST welcomes guest speakers from industry to its various clubs offered during the school day, and hosts a spring research symposium each year for STEM industries to showcase their technologies, offer sessions for the students, and learn from TJ students by attending their research presentations. To advance the school’s outreach and research potential, TJHSST has made strides in developing the vision for a collaborative research network, called JCIRN, so that students are able to collaborate with STEM professionals and other classrooms around the country.
“The first STEM Council event was a great success. It was inspiring to hear from Dr. Glazer about the innovative STEM programs and outreach initiatives underway at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. Along with other engineering companies, SRA International is playing a role to increase the pipeline of young people pursuing STEM careers. It was energizing to network with such a broad cross section of leaders, all of whom have a passion for STEM and know the future of our companies and global competitiveness depends on this next generation of students pursuing these careers,” said Todd Morris, Vice President and Director of Homeland Security at SRA International.
The sold-out event was a great success; we look forward to announcing future events for the STEM Council in 2013. The program ended with a general consensus from the packed room: there is an early supply chain problem in identifying and nurturing future STEM leaders, leading to current workforce development shortages and loss of U.S. competitiveness in the national security field.