|College Readiness Initiative|
America's advantage over its international competitors in science, technology, and innovation is diminishing. A major reason for this trend is the declining interest and proficiency of U.S. students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. In response to these challenges, BHEF has been engaged in a series of efforts to better understand the challenges the country faces in developing STEM talent and provide potential solutions to addressing them.
Since 2005, BHEF has been committed to a STEM Initiative focused on securing America’s leadership in STEM. In recent years, BHEF has deepened and expanded the initiative, employing innovative tools ― such as a unique system dynamics model of the STEM education system ― and research to refine its understanding of the key leverage points that impact the number and quality of graduates in STEM fields. View an overview (pdf) of the STEM Initiative.
Most recently, under the leadership of Lew Hay, Chairman and CEO, NextEra Energy, Inc., Mark Wrighton, Chancellor, Washington University in St. Louis, and a BHEF member working group of senior executives, BHEF has launched the STEM Higher Education and Workforce Project to forge new strategic partnerships among business and industry, higher education, and government to strengthen STEM higher education and enhance the STEM workforce. Through complementary regional and national strategies, the project seeks to identify and encourage the scaling of programs, policies, and strategies that deepen college-level STEM learning and increase enrollment, persistence, and successful graduation of students, particularly women and underrepresented minorities, from STEM-centered undergraduate and graduate programs, and strengthen pathways into STEM careers.
In June 2012, BHEF launched a new innovative approach to industry-higher education partnerships. Today, over a dozen BHEF member-led regional workforce projects are addressing America's toughest workforce challenges in engineering, cybersecurity, big data, life sciences, water, energy, and entrepreneurship. (View a pdf overview of each of the workforce projects.) BHEF also presented an open letter to the President, announcing the formation of a National Undergraduate STEM Partnership of ten industry and higher education associations, professional societies, and government agencies. The letter outlines the following goals:
- Increase the number, rate, and diversity of undergraduates in STEM disciplines;
- Better align undergraduate education (including community college education) with STEM industry workforce needs in key strategic areas; and
- Identify roles and responsibilities for academic, industry, and government organizations in studying, advancing, and evaluating comprehensive and systemic reform in undergraduate STEM education and workforce development, recruitment, placement, and retention.
For additional information about the letter, click here.
An additional aspect of this project has focused on building awareness and support for Professional Science Master’s (PSM) programs among leaders in business, higher education, and government. PSM programs provide students with intensive interdisciplinary graduate level coursework in STEM combined with training in management and workplace skills such as communication, teamwork, finance, and marketing. In particular, BHEF has developed numerous profiles of the most promising PSM programs, a PSM issue brief, and an overview of business involvement in PSMs. All of these publications, as well as the PSM Program Locator tool that allows users to access a compendium of PSM programs, are now featured on BHEF’s online resource center, www.StrategicEdSolutions.org®.
Other STEM Initiative Activities
The STEM Higher Education and Workforce Project builds on previous STEM Initiative efforts in which BHEF has:
Collaborated with Raytheon in developing the BHEF U.S. STEM Education Model. This system dynamics model enables users to examine the impact of proposed policy interventions and strategies on the number of STEM-capable and interested students in order to better understand which policies and strategies have the greatest potential to improve student interest and proficiency in STEM disciplines, and thus increase the number of STEM college graduates. Among the key insights: focusing on STEM higher education can produce significant return on investment by retaining students in higher education who have already demonstrated the pre-requisites to success in STEM ― proficiency and interest ― but who nonetheless too often leave the STEM disciplines while in college. To learn more about the BHEF U.S. STEM Education Model, download a brief description of the project (pdf), a new report about the model (pdf), a brochure of the model (pdf), or run the model.
Established the STEM Research and Modeling Network (SRMN), to foster an open-innovation community devoted to improving U.S. STEM student outcomes, augmenting the BHEF U.S. STEM Education Model, and advancing predictive modeling tools in education. Visit the SRMN Web site at www.stemnetwork.org.
Published An American Imperative, a report that proposed a comprehensive action plan to elevate the status of the STEM teaching profession and focused on transforming three key components that contribute to a robust, world-class teaching workforce: teacher recruitment, retention, and renewal.