STEM is Job 1

Amidst the mounds of dreary economic news, a recent Newsweek article by Daniel Lyons (Silicon Valley's Fork in the Road) really caught my attention.  Lyons writes persuasively that if America is not extremely careful and deliberately aggressive, our "crown jewels" in technology leadership will soon go the way of the Detroit automakers. 

So borrowing a phrase from one of the Big Three:  STEM is Job 1!

1.  Every US Citizen.  STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) must be a priority for all Americans — every one of us.  Whether consumer, developer, or simply observer, STEM expertise combined with entrepreneurial passion has created a dynamic, technologically interrelated world and America has been a leader in making this happen.  Yet this leadership is threatened by limited research & development, weak education system, and lack of STEM expertise in America's workforce. 

2.  PK-14.  STEM must be an active part of the curriculum for every US school student PK-14.  This pathway sets the stage for completing undergraduate studies in STEM then pursuing advanced degrees.  Quality of this instruction is paramount — basics are no longer enough.

3.  Higher Ed.  In higher education, colleges of science, engineering, mathmatics, and computer science & technology have been sounding the alarm for decades.  See  Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future.  Some schools have begun to act on these findings.  For example, The University of Texas at Austin has established a most successful teacher training program:   UTeach Natural Sciences.  Althougth UTeach is an interdisciplinary program, the College of Natural Sciences takes the lead.  We need to ensure this model in sciences, mathematics, technology, and engineering across the nation.

4.  Business and Industry.  Numerous high tech companies are working together to advance the STEM agenda; one such industry organization is  AeA Advancing the Business of Technology.  Individual companies and global giants from Intel's Education Initiative to ExxonMobil's Support for Math and Science plus many more commit resources and the power of their brands to promote STEM education.  These companies are not just good corporate citizens; they are fighting for good employees, well-trained and US citizens or, at least, a balance of American experts and those here on visas. 

STEM education is an imperative of urgent proportion.   The United States can address these issues but we have not — STEM has not had a unified national agenda nor has it been clearly a top priority.  It must be or, indeed, Lyons prediction will come true — America will no longer be the world leader in technology.  Time to power up — it's long overdue. 

STEM must be Job 1.