Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields are critical to innovation and the continued development of the U.S. economy. However, trends are showing that while there are and will continue to be plenty of jobs in these fields, many students are unprepared or lack the desire necessary for employers of the future to fill these jobs effectively.

In order to get more students interested in STEM, it is imperative that they learn through hands-on training, mentoring and demonstrations early in their education. In her latest blog, Amanda Williams, Community Relations Manager at Cisco, describes the importance of getting students physically involved in STEM to spark an interest for the future. Through the launch of the Cisco US2020 STEM mentoring initiative, Cisco employees are able work with students from various schools around the U.S. The students participate in activities such as robot building, engineering demos of circuit building, 3D printing, and pedal-a-watt to make a phone ring. Through this program, we are able to get students excited about the opportunities to learn more about STEM fields.us2020

While we still have a long road ahead of us when it comes to preparing and inspiring a future generation of STEM innovators, it’s encouraging to see students enjoying the learning process this new initiative provides.

Additionally, we also need to mentor more of the students who are showing an interest in STEM fields, both in the K-12 level as well as in higher education. After so many people are working hard to re-engage students with STEM in programs like US2020, we cannot let these aspiring STEM leaders of the future get all the way to the door, only to not show up and actually help open it for them. In some STEM fields, mentoring levels are at less than 3 percent. There is significant room for improvement in that number, especially when compared to other professions, such as law, where mentoring is a staple part of the professional development process.

Our future counts on initiatives that are engaging, encouraging and supporting STEM students at all points in their journey. So, I encourage you to visit the US2020 website – and share your #MomentofDiscovery.

Also, keep your eye on the City Competition – round 2 applicants to be announced this week.






Patrick Finn

No Longer at Cisco