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Lighting the Fire of American Ingenuity The Need for More STEM Support

Change the Equation hosted their 2014 National STEM Summit, where United States Vice President Joe Biden delivered the keynote address to an audience comprised of America’s top business and thought leaders about the urgent need to improve STEM education in all of our schools. “In the next four years,” he said, “there will be over a million more jobs requiring science, technology, engineering, and math skills, but 15-year-olds in the United States rank 27th in Math, 20th in Science… out of 34 countries.” Furthermore, the percentage of female college students earning computer science and engineering degrees has decreased over the years, creating a widening gender gap in STEM, despite the fact that women outnumber and outperform men in college.
In order for our country to remain globally competitive moving forward, “we’ve got to go where the future is. And the future is in STEM-related education.” According to Biden, this calls for an “all of the above” approach, and he commended the business community for doing “the single most basic thing” by challenging and changing the culture of STEM education.
The united support of the Change the Equation coalition member companies for STEM education is a “game changer” in Biden’s mind, because their efforts focus donations and support on a few proven programs.  In Biden’s words,  they are “changing the lives of tens of thousands of students” in the process. The government is also investing in this critical issue.
“We provided $270 million to investing in innovation program to promote evidence-based science, technology, engineering, and math educational programs,” said Biden, and among these programs are NMSI’s College Readiness and Laying the Foundation programs. “We’ve awarded $15 million to the National Math and Science Initiative to increase… the number and diversity – and I emphasize diversity – of students taking and passing math, science, and English AP exams. We know we will have succeeded if we create a million more STEM-ready graduates that we need by 2018 to meet the growth in STEM-related occupations.”
“Educating our young people is the most critical, basic responsibility we have as a nation in order to impact on our future,” he continued, “but I need not tell you that we face skill shortages right now. You’re doing the most important work trying to change the culture from the very beginning in educating our young students, but we have immediate needs right now.”
By 2020, Biden asserted that America will need 200,000 more software developers; 40,000 more computer network support specialists; 500,000 more nurses; 30,000 more physicians’ assistants; and nearly 10,000 more petroleum engineers –all of which are careers that need extensive education and training in STEM.
More than ever before, we need to ensure that our students are equipped with the tools and skills they need to thrive in an ever-increasing global knowledge economy. NMSI is doing its part to close the achievement gap by providing teachers with the training and resources necessary to support their students and get them college and career ready.  This was exactly what Biden called for in his closing remarks.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the American spirit of ingenuity and innovation is right here in every student in every school, we just have the give them the foundation, we’ve got to light that fire.”
NMSI is laying this foundation in STEM, and we are lighting that fire and passion for learning in each of our students and teachers. Join us in making a difference in our nation’s schools!