STEM jobs are essential to growth in America, says United States Commerce Secretary Gary Locke in his blog (http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/07/14/stem-jobs-help-america-win-future). “Unfortunately, many U.S. businesses have frequently voiced concerns over the supply and availability of STEM workers. Companies operating on the forefront of technological innovation need more of them.”
Major players in the mil/aero market, in fact, often voice concerns over the future availability of STEM professionals—particularly engineers, such as those specializing and innovating in product design and development. For this and other reasons, mil/aero organizations are pledging funds for and otherwise promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education.
The Obama Administration has committed $206 million for STEM training and related programs in the 2012 budget. “It’s an investment that will pay off for American families,” says Locke.
This month, NASA awarded approximately $600,000 in grants, via NASA’s Curriculum Improvement Partnership Award for the Integration of Research (CIPAIR) project, to four universities and partner institutions to strengthen STEM programs.
The selected institutions and partners include:
— California State University, San Bernardino, and College of the Desert in Palm Desert, Calif.
— Fond Du Lac Tribal College in Cloquet, Minn.
— Rust College in Holly Springs, Miss., and Mid-South Community College in West Memphis, Ark.
— Navajo Technical College in Crownpoint, N.M.
These awards stem from NASA’s commitment to “achieving a broad-based, competitive aerospace research and technology development capability,” says a representative. “NASA invests in projects that will build, sustain, and provide a skilled, knowledgeable, and diverse work force to meet the agency and the country’s emerging needs.”
Also this month, a team of officials from Lockheed Martin’s Information Systems & Global Solutions (IS&GS) and Space Systems Company promoted STEM careers, such as those in the IT and engineering fields, to more than 200 middle- and high-school students at the NASA IT Summit 2011 Education Blast Off.
“Lockheed Martin is focused on fostering the next generation of engineers and technologists to help develop the work force of tomorrow,” says Mahesh Kalva, chief technology officer of Lockheed Martin IS&GS-Civil’s Enterprise IT Solutions business. “Our employees are committed to STEM education to ensure we have the talented work force needed to help NASA reach even greater heights in the future.” (A fact sheet with examples of Lockheed Martin’s recent NASA-related STEM activities is now available.)
STEM-related education and careers help drive our economy’s health and stability. As we approach the “singularity” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity), as predicted by the infamously controversial Ray Kurzweil, STEM-related educators, students, and careers are of paramount importance. Technology is growing at an exponential rate and this geek believes we need explosive growth in STEM-related activities to keep from being upstaged in the global technology theater.
Another great place to learn about STEM is Mentor Graphics’ IESF; I hope to see you there, in Long Beach on Sept. 13.