BHEF Highlights Importance of Industry Leadership at GW STEM Event
Says business is key to accelerating the pace of change in STEM education
Washington, DC (April 7, 2011) — Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF) Executive Director Brian K. Fitzgerald, the head of an organization that brings CEOs together with college and university leaders to increase degree attainment, especially in math and science; and Robert Ballard, an oceanographer and explorer best known for discovering the shipwreck of RMS Titanic and founding The JASON Project to connect young students with science, today addressed leaders from business, government, and education throughout the Virginia region as part of the George Washington University’s inaugural forum on stimulating the interest of students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and encouraging them to pursue STEM careers.
During the event, “Regional Innovation Issues: Science, Technology, and the New Workforce,”
Fitzgerald and Ballard discussed how science and technology impact jobs and how corporations are taking the lead in supporting STEM education and future careers in science and technology.
Fitzgerald highlighted several BHEF members based in the region who embody this work. BHEF Chair William H. Swanson, chairman and CEO of Raytheon Company, created the MathMovesU program, which engages middle school students in math and science through interactive learning programs, events, tutoring programs and more.
He also mentioned Walter P. Havenstein CEO, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), who is chairman of the board of FIRST—an organization that inspires young people to be science and technology leaders by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build STEM skills; and Wesley G. Bush, CEO and president, Northrop Grumman Corporation, which is engaged in a variety of programs and encourages its employees take time to teach and inspire young people and reach out to into local schools and establish partnerships that enhance the quality of education and help to improve academic performance.
These leaders and others from both the corporate and academic sectors are working together to identify and address a structural misalignment between education and workforce needs. “BHEF members through our two key initiatives, the College Readiness, Access, and Success Initiative (CRI), and the Securing America’s Leadership in STEM Initiative, are leading the effort to address college- and work-readiness, access, and success issues, particularly in the area of STEM,” said Fitzgerald. “This alignment is needed to better develop and maintain the employee skills that will keep our corporations competitive in the 21st century.”
“America’s STEM workforce problem will not be solved overnight. Like virtually all modern achievements, it requires partnerships. At GW this week, new partnerships are being created and others, strengthened. The task at hand for the partners is to systematically raise kids’ expectations by providing the powerful role models and breath-taking learning experiences that will make them passionate practitioners of science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said Ballard.
During the GW event, Fitzgerald demonstrated the BHEF U.S. STEM Education Model—the first simulation model to examine the U.S. education system using system dynamics principles and tools. The Model so far has delivered several crucial insights, including that increasing the number of STEM college graduates will require a carefully integrated P-12 and higher-education strategy; strengthening STEM undergraduate education is the highest leverage strategy to meet employers’ immediate STEM workforce needs; improving the number of STEM-capable teachers is vital to increasing the number of students who choose and succeed in STEM majors; and increasing the pool of students who are interested in STEM majors and careers will require an increase in interest and proficiency as fewer than one in five 12th graders currently have both high interest in STEM and high proficiency. The Model was built by Raytheon and donated to BHEF in 2009.
About the Business-Higher Education Forum
BHEF is the nation’s oldest organization of senior business and higher education executives dedicated to advancing innovative solutions to U.S. education and workforce challenges. Composed of Fortune 500 CEOs, prominent college and university presidents, and other leaders, BHEF addresses issues fundamental to our global competitiveness. It does so through two initiatives: the College Readiness, Access, and Success Initiative (CRI), addressing college- and work-readiness, access, and success; and the Securing America’s Leadership in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Initiative, promoting America’s leadership in STEM. BHEF and its members drive change locally, work to influence public policy at the national and state levels, and inspire other leaders to act. Learn more at www.bhef.com.