The economic vitality of the Great Lakes Bay Region depends on industries and jobs that require employees skilled in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. However, there is a gap in the availability of qualified talent.
In an effort to prevent the gap from widening even further, the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance will host a STEM Impact Initiative Summit from 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Nov. 13 at Central Michigan University’s McGuirk Arena. Colleagues from business, academia, community and nonprofit organizations will discuss strategies, ideas and solutions for creating a strong, STEM-ready workforce.
“The Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance is committed to building the workforce of tomorrow through comprehensive STEM education and training to meet the needs of our current employers and to attract new jobs and companies to the area,” said Matthew Felan, alliance president and CEO. “Our top priority is talent development through STEM education, and it’s great to have a partner like CMU President George Ross who is actively involved as a board member.”
During the 2013-2014 academic year, CMU’s College of Science and Technology had 2,176 students sign majors in STEM disciplines and conferred 645 undergraduate degrees — a 23 percent increase in majors and a 38 percent increase in undergraduate degrees since 2009.
“CMU is a real force in STEM education, with nuclear physics research, oversight of a $10 million EPA grant to protect Great Lakes coastal wetlands and the training of teachers in STEM disciplines — to name a few,” said CMU Provost Michael Gealt.
“We are committed to providing students the best education possible, as evidenced by construction of a $95 million Biosciences Building, slated to open for classes in January 2017. We welcome the 2014 STEM Impact Initiative Summit and support the collaborative work being done to advance STEM education across the Great Lakes Bay Region.”
According to a recent U.S. Department of Education study:
- only 16 percent of high school seniors are interested in pursuing careers in STEM; and
- seventy-four percent of college graduates with STEM degrees pursue non-STEM jobs in education, health care and law, despite a demand for their skills and the potential to earn a higher salary in STEM-related careers.
Further adding to the growing crisis is a lack of diversity in STEM fields. Nationally, only one in four women who graduate from college work in a STEM-related job.
In response to this issue, the STEM Impact Initiative was developed by regional business and educational leaders with the goal of increasing the number of students who are interested in and prepared to pursue STEM-related careers in the region.
“There’s a big gap between the skills that students have when they graduate and the point when they’re able to be employed by large industry partners in the region,” said Erin O’Brien, president and CEO of Central Michigan University Research Corp. and Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance board member.
In addition to a keynote address that will be given by Brian Kelly, editor and chief content officer of U.S. News & World Report, STEM opportunities and the challenges facing our region’s young people will be discussed during a lunch panel of regional university presidents that will include:
- George E. Ross, Central Michigan University;
- Jeff Abernathy, Alma College;
- Donald Bachand, Saginaw Valley State University;
- Jean Goodnow, Delta College;
- Christine Hammond, Mid Michigan Community College; and
- Keith Pretty, Northwood University.
Results of a comprehensive STEM study conducted in Bay, Gratiot, Isabella, Midland and Saginaw counties also will be presented and followed by breakout sessions during which summit participants will be able to share ideas and propose solutions.
Admission to the summit costs $50 for the general public and $25 for educators, including K-12 and college/university educators. Register online at greatlakesbay.org by Nov. 3.
The first 50 teachers to register will have their substitute teacher fee paid for by the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance. Contact Moira Branigan at firstname.lastname@example.org for a reimbursement form and more information.
The Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance brings together members of the Bay Area, Midland Area and Saginaw County Chambers of Commerce, along with Bay Future, Midland Tomorrow and Saginaw Future Inc. Comprised of 48 board members, the alliance exists to encourage, support and celebrate regional collaboration and initiatives that will improve the economic vitality and quality of life in the Great Lakes Bay Region.