STEM -- A Path Forward for Manufacturing

Like other manufacturing companies, item North America has a keen interest in the continued development of a well-educated workforce. As a company that designs and builds custom mechanical solutions such as linear motion systems, machine safety guarding and enclosures, automated assembly lines, industrial workbenches and factory platforms and stairs, the growth of item North America is partially dependent on our ability to find and hire well-qualified mechanical engineers and other skilled staff.

After years of focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education, a growing STEM workforce has developed to help lead domestic manufacturing growth in 2015. You may have noticed industry outlets reporting on the resurgence of domestic manufacturing and new technological advancements that have facilitated this growth. Many are sharing expectations of continual growth into 2016, pointing to the constant demand of STEM positions and increased STEM interest in students throughout the education system. 

Assembly Magazine recently compiled manufacturing statistics from 2015 in their Capital Spending Outlook report, highlighting a 1.9 % growth from October 2014 to October 2015. Calling 2015 a “banner year for U.S. manufacturing” citing steady manufacturing employment reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics being 7.5% greater than the manufacturing employment low point of March 2010.

The increased focus of STEM education has facilitated the growth of domestic manufacturing with a growing workforce of interested and qualified candidates. In 2011 the Committee on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Education (CoSTEM) formed to coordinate federal programs and agencies to support STEM education. With 10 of the top 14 fastest growing industries within STEM fields, having a qualified workforce is critical for success in a global economy.The CoSTEM committee’s objectives were to:

A. Improve K-12th grade STEM instruction

B. Increase youth engagement with STEM

C. Enhance undergraduate STEM classes

D. Better serve underrepresented groups in STEM

E. Develop better graduate education for tomorrow’s STEM workforce.

 

Progress in K-12

CoSTEM utilizes evidence based approaches to execute efforts on state and district wide grade school levels. One such objective is the 100Kin10 program, an initiative to train an additional 100,000 STEM teachers by 2021. With collaboration being the key to their success, over 200 other organizations have partnered with CoSTEM to facilitate the mentorship and training of the next generation of teachers.

Another federal education program that has gained media attention is the Race to the Top. This competitive grant program has sent $4.35 billion to states that have formed innovative and successful approaches to education. With Tennessee and Delaware being the first states to be awarded grants, now over 22 million students and 1.5 million teachers across 44,000 schools benefit from Race to the Top grants.

Increasing Youth & Female Engagement

One of the more narrow-focused objectives of CoSTEM is to increase the number of qualified candidates for STEM participation from underrepresented groups. With over $1.086 billion invested, a concentrated effort has been made to close the gap of underrepresented groups working in STEM. For instance, women make up nearly half of the workforce, but hold fewer than 25% of STEM jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Women are already financially incentivized to consider STEM positions with women earning 33% more on average than non-STEM occupations and experience a smaller wage gap relative to men. This has shifted CoSTEM’s efforts to focus on creating interest at earlier ages throughout the education system. 

 

Improving Undergraduate STEM Classes

To tackle the objective of increasing STEM success in colleges, CoSTEM quickly realized that not only was there a lack of interest in STEM majors, but the current class offerings also needed to be improved. As NY Times reported, the lowest average grades were among Chemistry and Math courses. Students appeared to be fearful of continued poor grades and often did better in other fields, ultimately becoming disinterested in STEM degrees and switching majors.

Subsequently, engineering schools began initiatives to improve class formats in an effort to maintain students interest and engagement. Moving away from traditional lectures style classes, and towards immersive classes using cutting edge technology and participating in active research. While this is a work in progress, the National Science Foundation's IUSE Initiative is underway to study and improve undergraduate STEM education.
 

Future for STEM

It would appear that the efforts of CoSTEM and other organizations to promote STEM education are making an impact with an increase in the number of STEM majors and graduates. So is there a STEM fcrisis, or a STEM surplus? The answer, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is both... dependent on the job market segment. 

It would appear that the efforts of CoSTEM and other organizations to promote STEM education are making an impact with an increase in the number of STEM majors and graduates. So is there a STEM fcrisis, or a STEM surplus? The answer, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is both... dependent on the job market segment. 

CoSTEM’s efforts have helped grow STEM degree holders, and when looking at the overall STEM classification it appears there are indeed enough degree holders to satisfy the growing demand. However, as an article in Spectrum IEEE illustrates, the 392k degree holders appear to satisfy the 277k STEM vacancies a year, with combined number of degree recipients across Associates, Bachelors, Masters and Ph. Ds. 

STEM Degrees and Demand per year

 

 

Conclusion

CoSTEM’s efforts are continuing to improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education throughout the country. Their initiatives to grow interest in STEM, to improve STEM education from early grades to university level classes, and to better serve underrepresented groups in STEM fields is creating a more qualified STEM workforce. 

 

Many who have taken advantage and benefited from these efforts are entering the workforce with the timing parallel with a growth in domestic manufacturing. As new facilities are being built and old facilities are being modernized, new STEM graduates are qualified to create value to STEM manufacturing companies.

Many who have taken advantage and benefited from these efforts are entering the workforce with parallel timing to a growth in domestic manufacturing. As new facilities are being built and old facilities are being modernized, new STEM graduates are qualified to create value to STEM manufacturing companies.

item North America in Akron, Ohio, has seen the growth in modernized workflows and automation first hand, and participated in the USA Science and Engineering Festival to promote STEM education. We also realize the benefits of having a diverse workforce and have invited interns from Kent State University’s College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability, and Technology. As we continue to grow, we are constantly looking for qualified mechanical engineers to best serve our customer’s diverse set of mechanical needs.

Mechanical engineers seeking an opportunity with a growing company are encouraged to fill out our job application form.

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