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How Can We Encourage Students Of All Backgrounds To Go Into STEM?

March 17, 2014
at 12:54 pm PST

Today in the Huffington Post, Blair Christie, Cisco Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, and Eric Schwarz, cofounder and CEO of Citizen Schools wrote about our organizations’ collective commitment to increase the number of students interested in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects and careers.

Last week in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, network engineers helped 50 student robotics teams compete in Aerial Assist, a game in which students program and operate robots to toss as many balls into a goal as possible — in just 150 seconds. Similarly, in San Jose, a group of women engineers at Cisco hosted 70 middle-school girls earlier this year as part of “National Engineering Week” to give them a glimpse into how cutting-edge technologies are developed in R&D labs.

These engagements, part of the US 2020 initiative announced at the White House Science Fair last year, reflect the urgent need to do more to encourage students to go into science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professions.

Three things are true in STEM: There are a lot of job openings. These jobs pay well. And there are not enough qualified people to fill these jobs. Today, the technology industry employs 6 million people. By 2018, the U.S. will face a projected shortfall of 230,000 qualified advanced-degree STEM workers. Meanwhile, the Bureau for Labor Statistics predicts that STEM jobs will grow 55 percent faster than non-STEM jobs over the next 10 years. The flow of talent into the STEM pipeline is limited. Without a dramatic change, the pressure will weaken further, and the flow of talent will slow to a trickle.

Read the complete blog on the Huffington Post.

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6 Comments.


  1. There are a number of employers in the U.S. that have adopted a business model that includes the hiring of large numbers of imported guestworkers. The cumulative number imported since 1976 via just one of these programs is over three million. This employer avidity acts to discourage American citizens from making the large investments in time and money to earn a STEM degree. So this business practice is causing the very problem that is discussed above. Free-market advocate and Nobel economics prize winner Milton Friedman called this program a “government subsidy” program in 2002. This assessment is still accurate today.

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  2. Spokesmen for business interests too often ignore the effects of advocacy in their immediate special interest at the expense of the general interest of their country. The market mechanism of balancing supply and demand determines wages and guarantees there is no long-term labor shortage in this country, and government’s tipping the scales by importing foreign labor is a deliberate frustration of the mechanism that will ultimately and inevitably lead to a true shortage of STEM workers.

    There is ample documentation of the collusive fraud of the pipeline studies promoted by NSF with the help of NAS and strategic leaks to willing tools. If anyone wants to know the historical truth, I recommend distinguished Washington science reporter Daniel S. Greenberg’s book _Science, Politics, and Money: Political Triumph and Ethical Erosion_, which gives the story in two short chapters; and the House Science Committee’s hearing of April 8, 1992 by Rep. Howard Wolpe. NSF not only silenced and damaged the careers of the statistician and economist who recognized the absurdity of equating the drop of new college STEM grads following graduation of the baby boom’s peak cohort, they conveniently never bothered to correct those who misunderstood that their term of art “cumulative shortfall” did not mean “shortage” and that the assumptions of their model were demonstrably invalid.

    After nearly a quarter of a century of H-1B’s replacing American workers in STEM and disincentivizing students to major in STEM, it is a fact that only 40% of Americans graduating in STEM ever find STEM jobs, and yet they’ve amassed massive college loan debts. The glut of STEM labor occasioned by H-1B, E-3, L-1,EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 has seriously depressed wages, and it is very hard for Americans in STEM to remain in STEM after age 40 (see _Science_ writer Beryl Lieff Benderly on the “shelf-life of a STEM degree); for the partially disabled, it is nearly impossible. Re-tooling in another discipline – the facile answer of H-1B proponents – after spending so many years in college, amassing high indebtedness and staying out of the labor pool, is impractical except for the single.

    I recall an immigration attorney advocating H-1B expansion, who confided that he wouldn’t want his kids majoring in STEM because STEM workers (like his sister) have to work awfully hard and there are much easier ways to earn a living, oblivious to the rebuttal of a STEM shortage that his comment made.

    The idea that there has been a long-term shortage of native talent in a nation as advanced and populous as the US is absurd. Businesses that cannot find Americans ready, willing, and able to fill STEM jobs, need to increase the pay offered for the job to the US market wage or seek training in hiring.

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    • The beneficiaries of the current bloated levels of higher-skilled immigration illustrate the principle that the benefits are largely privatized while the costs are socialized. More details are available via searching by title for the PDF version of the 2012 article, “How Record Immigration Levels Robbed American High-Tech Workers of $10 Trillion”

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  3. Women leaders often publicize a desire for more women, yet the same women ignore any attempts to partner on the very same goals.

    It’s sad to know we are better together and choose not to partner with other women. It’s odd to me, as I’m not trying to get rich, I’m trying to grow women in STEAM fields.

    Best of luck,

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  4. Here’s my prescription;

    I’ve made tools in several open source tools to aide students in engineering simulations. Preparing or planning and monitoring system dynamics or advanced learning concepts.

    Another example; using my six sigma champion + training to build out a nationwide six sigma quality review infrastructure. Partnering with research centers at universities and standards organizations in both IT and quality.

    Or maybe teaching students how to delivers a secure cloud with off premise low cost child are business using a mobile phone.

    Poverty eradication using systems and six sigma with hands on advanced learning concepts. Water, Land, Air and Space integrated with human ecology future Athena warriors of architecture and strategy and war and wisdom.

    Anyone remember cooking class, well let’s add a bit of variety by having. Culture cooking lessons from some of the senior living centers.

    What girl can’t appreciate a good lesson in authenticate cooking? I love helping my grandmother make her famous cookies.

    My first job at Cisco (temp) turned field marketing support into service work orders. Imagine if the work request was managed virtually in a quad of web ex. Economics of managing budgets and hands on collaboration tools. These students might make great virtual teachers assistants after earning CMP certification.

    I’m happy to share the best ways to build such concepts or share the digital media architecture to enable these ides. Just reach out.

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  5. I am an early middle-aged “obsolete”, “unemployable” American programmer. An American STEM worker has to fight both becoming obsolete and competition from the gloabl STEM workforce, either in the form of H1B visa workers or general offshore outsourcing.

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