stem

$2M in STEM Challenge Grants awarded

The Economic Development Administration (EDA) has announced the seven recipients of the inaugural STEM Talent Challenge, awarding a total of $2 million in grants through the inaugural STEM Talent Challenge, which aims to boost local science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) talent. Three SSTI members were among the seven winners: Ohio University received a $295,643 grant in the digital manufacturing sector; University City Science Center won a $246,179 grant in biotechnology/cell and gene therapy; and, the University of Michigan won $300,000 in grant money in the advanced manufacturing and cybersecurity sector. More information on all of the recipients is available here. The funding opportunity kicked off in August 2020 to further build STEM workforce readiness and spur innovation.

EDA makes $2 million available for STEM talent

The Economic Development Administration’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE) released a funding opportunity this morning for a new STEM Talent Challenge. The opportunity provides $2 million in total to governmental and nonprofit entities working to implement STEM apprenticeship models in their regions. Applicants may request up to $300,000 for an 18-24-month project, and no more than $50,000 may go toward planning and development, which should generally be completed within the first six months of the project period. EDA is seeking projects that will expand work-based learning for adults, increase regional innovation capacity, and expand diversity in STEM. OIE will host an informational webinar on Sept. 9, and proposals are due Oct. 14.

Useful Stats: Science and engineering degrees by state

The total number of science and engineering (S&E) degrees awarded grew from 520,474 in 2000 to 955,401 in 2018, an increase of 83 percent, according to National Science Foundation (NSF) data. The portion of S&E degrees awarded compared to all degrees has increased as well, from a 2000 average of 31 percent of all degrees awarded to an average of 34 percent in 2018. S&E degrees includes bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees in areas such as life sciences, physical sciences and engineering.

PCAST recommends bold actions to ensure American leadership in industries of the future

The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) is recommending a set of bold actions to help ensure continued American leadership in Industries of the Future (IotF), comprising artificial intelligence (AI), quantum information science (QIS), advanced manufacturing, advanced communications, and biotechnology. The three pillars underpinning these actions are: enhancing multi-sector engagement in research and innovation; creating a new institute structure that integrates one or more of the IotF areas and spans discovery research to product development; and ensuring the availability of a qualified, diverse IotF workforce.

APLU report focuses on bolstering diversity in STEM faculty

Just 10 percent of STEM faculty at four-year institutions are from underrepresented backgrounds, according to a new report by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. The report and an accompanying guidebook, which were supported by the NSF INCLUDES grant, look at the lack of individuals from underrepresented backgrounds in STEM faculty positions and outline several key findings and steps for higher education leaders, researchers, and policymakers to bolster diversity in STEM faculty.

Addressing barriers for women is crucial to STEMM success

A report released earlier this month by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, addresses the barrier of inequality that women, despite making up more than 50 percent of the population, experience in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM). Further, women of color are severely underrepresented in every STEMM discipline. The report focuses on promoting systemic change in the STEMM enterprise in order to mitigate structural inequities, biases, discrimination, and harassment faced by many women, which consequently discourages education and careers in STEMM.

Is every job a STEM job?

STEM and the American Workforce, a new report backed mostly by science associations, points to STEM jobs as one-third of direct employment, two-thirds of total employment, and 69 percent of America’s GDP. The authors highlight that 60 percent of STEM jobs are filled by people without bachelor’s degrees. Those are eye-popping numbers until one starts to dig into what the report considers a STEM job, which were decided on a case-by-case basis according to the occupation’s sector and educational requirements. This is not the only recent STEM employment study to take an expansive view of the field. Earlier this year, the Idaho STEM Action Center reported that the number of unfilled STEM jobs in the state had doubled, to 7,633, in just three years. Digging into the state labor agency’s data indicates that a large portion of these openings are in healthcare, with the plurality of openings seeking registered nurses.

$25 million commitment builds coalition to increase women in STEM

In an effort to close the gender gap in STEM, a $25 million commitment from the Lyda Hill Foundation will help to build a coalition of science institutions along with names and brands in popular culture to help fund and elevate women in STEM fields. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), one of the coalition members, will select 100 women in STEM professions to serve as ambassadors for the new IF/THEN Initiative, to help build skills and opportunities among middle school girls in science communication, public engagement, media, diversity and inclusion, and STEM education.

Federal government presents strategic plan for STEM education

Envisioning a future where all Americans will have lifelong access to high-quality STEM education, and where the U.S. will be the global leader in STEM literacy, innovation and employment, the federal government released a five-year strategic plan for STEM education. Noting that the federal government has a key role to play in furthering STEM education and removing barriers to participation in STEM careers, especially for women and other underrepresented groups, the report issues a call to action for a nationwide collaboration with learners, families, educators, communities and employers.

Cohorts and other strategies to help individuals from underrepresented groups graduate with STEM degrees

While diversity plays a critical role in both improving the quality and increasing the rate of innovation, women and several minority groups remain underrepresented in STEM fields. Several studies find that improving the retention rate of women and other underrepresented groups in STEM at the college level can have significant impacts on improving the diversity and representativeness of the STEM workforce. For women and other underrepresented groups, the college experience can create unique roadblocks and barriers that ultimately cause them to switch majors or even leave college. Several recent studies have examined strategies to improve the retention rate of women and other underrepresented groups in STEM degrees at institution of higher education. The strategies range from pre-college STEM academies to establishing cohorts of underrepresented students.

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