Commanding General and Chief of Engineers Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick visited the Baltimore District Tuesday as part of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Campaign Kickoff, and spoke to nearly 100 employees about how the Corps can encourage students to pursue STEM fields.
STEM-related jobs are drastically increasing, with the U.S. Department of Labor predicting that the U.S. will have more than one million job openings pertaining to STEM by 2018. However, a shortfall of qualified applicants leaves the outlook bleak for filling these positions.
“With only four percent of students graduating with degrees in STEM fields, the U.S. ranks in the bottom 14 of all countries,” Bostick said. “So the question we have to ask is, “What do we do about it?”
Bostick highlighted numerous ways to keep kids interested in STEM including hands-on activities like building a robot, or using technology to take a virtual tour through a waterway to educate about ecosystem restoration and navigation.
“We have to make STEM exciting for students,” Bostick said. “Efforts that encourage students to keep the door open to STEM will go a long way.”
The Baltimore District’s Speaker’s Bureau Program is the primary facilitator for employee involvement in STEM-related events, and has seen drastic growth in recent years. In 2012, Baltimore volunteers participated in more than 50 outreach events and reached over 7,000 students, educators and community groups. Events span from community meetings, one-on-one mentoring with high school students, and tours hosted by various offices in the district.
“Kids are figuring out earlier and earlier what they are interested in and what they want to do,” said district employee Emily Schiffmacher who regularly participates in the Speaker’s Bureau Program. “It’s good for us to get out in the schools and show them the STEM fields from very early on.”
The district hopes to only improve upon these numbers, but success is largely based on employee participation.
“Engineers, scientists and mathematicians have helped build this country,” Bostick said. “I encourage everyone to reach out and encourage students to pursue these fields so they can continue to build this country. If you make the difference for one or two people, you’ve made a difference for the rest of your life.”
If you are interested in participating in STEM-related events, or are interested in hosting a Baltimore District speaker, please contact Brittany Bangert at Brittany.firstname.lastname@example.org.