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As careers in science, technology, engineering, and math become more prevalent, community colleges are shifting their focus to meet demand and secure their place in a rapidly changing educational landscape.
In 2012, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology issued a dire warning that if the United States did not boost programming to produce one million more graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), the nation would lose it’s status as the leader in those fields. Since then, several national science organizations, including the National Research Council, the National Academies of Sciences, and the National Academy of Engineering have called on community colleges to lead the charge in STEM education in order to keep up with demand.
High on the list of priorities is preparing students early for STEM studies. Experts agree that children should be exposed to STEM career pathways in elementary school, and should have continued exposure through their middle school and high school years. Classroom experiences are important, but George Boggs, the CEO Emeritus of the American Association of Community Colleges, posits that visits to college campuses, involvement in research opportunities, advanced STEM studies in high school, science fairs, and summer camps are also necessary in order to get schoolchildren excited about careers in STEM.
According to Boggs, another critical component in devising successful STEM programs is developing curriculum articulation between high schools and community colleges to reduce the number of students who have to take remedial courses once they get to college. In math especially, community college students demonstrate a lack of preparedness that serve as a barrier to many of them pursuing careers in a STEM-related field. Additionally,
We review recent reports showing community colleges are placing a new emphasis on STEM education – with considerable success.
STEM education (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) has become the edge the U.S. needs to compete in the global workforce of the 21st century. How to get that education is now a source of discussion for business and education leaders. The shift from four-year schools to a two-year degree is a pronounced one, and while it may not be right for everyone, it is a key component in the economic health of this country. Are community colleges becoming the new leader in STEM education?
The Rise of STEM
Community College Week reported on 2012 data released by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology that suggested that if the U.S. is to remain a STEM leader, the country must produce one million more STEM graduates than current rates project. The Atlantic reports that according to a 2011 STEM report from the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, 92 percent of STEM workers will need post-secondary education by 2018. Around 35 percent of that number will require training at the community college level, while another 65 percent will need baccalaureate degrees.
STEM fields are extensive today, including a wide range of engineering and science industries. Some of the fields currently being transformed by innovations in science and technology include construction, advanced manufacturing, healthcare, biotechnology, transportation and energy. STEM might include work with computers, electricity, biochemistry, statistics, engineering and geography. There will also be a demand for teachers who can instruct up
We highlight some of the best degrees offered by community colleges in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
With so much talk about the value of a STEM education today, many students have the misconception that a four-year degree is necessary to gain good employment in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. However, community colleges are also answering the call for STEM training, through associate degree and certificate programs that prepare students for in-demand jobs in these industries. Check out these 10 exciting STEM degrees you can earn right at your local community college.
A.S. Natural Science – Kapi’olani Community College
The ASNS degree program offered through Kapi’olani Community College in Hawaii is specifically designed to deepen STEM learning at the community college level. This program provides a basic overview of natural science, with a two-year degree that can be transferred to a four-year school after graduation. The program offers students the option of specialization in either Life or Physical Science, with a broad curriculum that spans the science field no matter which specialty path is chosen.
A.S. General Physics – Waubonsee Community College
Waubonsee Community College in Illinois offers an Associate of Science with a specialization in a variety of fields of study, including physics. Students that choose this academic path will complete coursework in general physics and mathematics, as well as classes in chemistry, life sciences and physical sciences. The school also provides a list of STEM classes that have been approved by the National Science Foundation, which can be taken towards completion of this degree program.
Associate of Technical Arts – Edmonds Community
A recent study shows that fewer women are going after STEM degrees at community colleges today. We’ll take a look at the research and possible reasons why the number might be dropping.
Although STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is touted as the wave of the future for practical fields of study that can launch lucrative careers, it appears that women are not taking full advantage of the STEM opportunities presented at community colleges today. The growing gap is a concern for employers who wonder if there will be enough skilled workers to fill their positions in the future. Why are women appearing to shy away from STEM degree programs? There could be many reasons for the drop, but the primary focus of educators and employers is to help women overcome the challenges of STEM studies in order to produce a qualified, competitive workforce for the 21st century.
A Downward Trend
Recent data suggests that the number of women pursuing fields of study in STEM subjects appears to be waning rather than gaining speed. According to a report at the Community College Times, women earned 34 percent of two-year STEM degrees in 1997. By 2007, that number had dropped to just 28 percent. In addition, even though women make up at least half of the total workforce today, only one in four STEM jobs are currently held by a woman.
“There has been a 25-percent drop in the proportion of STEM degrees awarded to women at the community college level in this period,” Cynthia Costello, author of a new report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, told the Community College Times.
According to a report at the Association
Some community college scholars have been selected by NASA to design robotic rovers. Learn about the program and some of the students selected.
A number of community college students from around the country are headed to NASA to help design robotic rovers for Mars exploration. The 92 students chosen for the project were carefully selected after participating in interactive online assignments throughout the school year and will be headed to a NASA center this spring to complete their tasks. The National Community College Aerospace Scholar program designed the project, with sponsorship from NASA, and will include students from 24 different states across the country.
The Purpose of the Program
According to a press release at the NASA website, the program is based on the Texas Aerospace Scholars program, which was originally created as a partnership between the state’s education community and NASA. The purpose was to get more students excited about STEM areas of study, particularly science and engineering. This particular project, through the National Community College Aerospace Scholar program and NASA, is designed to offer hands-on opportunities in STEM fields that will inspire more students to enter those fields after they finish college.
“I am so proud of the Community College Aerospace Scholars program,” Leland Melvin, NASA’s associate administrator for education, stated in the press release. “Community colleges offer NASA a great pool of STEM talent critical to our scientific and exploration initiatives. They also serve a large portion of our nation’s minority students. Engaging these underserved and underrepresented learners in STEM initiatives helps NASA build a more inclusive and diverse workforce for the future.”
The Selection Process
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