- STEM education involves interdisciplinary learning in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
- STEM education helps give rise to scientific and computational literacy, innovative ideas and new technologies through advancement in critical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork and adaptability skills.
- Entrepreneur Robert F. Smith started his career in STEM as a chemical engineer. He is a staunch advocate for STEM learning in all levels of education and STEM’s importance in today’s innovative world.
STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education helps fuel the innovation of tomorrow. STEM’s method of instruction prepares students for diverse career opportunities and can be a driving force for economic growth, global competitiveness and a deeper understanding of the world around us. Without a STEM education framework, some of the greatest scientific developments may have never been discovered, demonstrating the importance of STEM education and its crucial role in our ever-changing world.
Read on to learn more about why STEM education is important, the benefits of STEM education and how entrepreneur and philanthropist Robert F. Smith’s background in STEM has shaped his accomplished career.
What Is STEM Education, and Why Is It Important?
STEM education is experiential and addresses multiple disciplines within its comprehensive learning structure. While STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, it has expanded past the basics to include pivotal technological capabilities of robotics and computer science. It is paramount that the range of disciplines continually expands to generate scientific and technological breakthroughs that will advance the global population.
As previously mentioned, STEM learning equips students with the ability to take on complex global and social issues and allows them to engage in authentic, real-world applications to prepare them for future careers. STEM education helps birth academics, researchers, engineers, innovators and entrepreneurs who will educate and bring forth much-needed technological advancements. However, despite the push for STEM education, there is a lack of STEM professionals in the workforce, making initiatives and funding for STEM even more vital.
While more than $550 million dollars of government funding was invested in STEM curriculum in 2019, companies can also do their part to educate students on the importance of STEM education. Work-based learning (WBL) is an opportunity for companies and organizations to partner with educational institutions to prepare students for STEM careers. These learning opportunities include, but are not limited to, internships, apprenticeships and mentorship programs. STEM-focused WBL programs can create highly informed, STEM-literate future employees for businesses and government agencies.
What Are Some Benefits of STEM Education?
STEM education provides students with distinct knowledge and skill sets that can support their professional endeavors. STEM-based education and activities train students to push the envelope through experimentation, project-based learning, analytical reasoning and complex problem solving. STEM professionals employ these skills in their real-life work environments of STEM occupations and emphasize STEM education’s importance in uplifting the global economy.
STEM education can also nurture STEM concepts and hands-on learning experiences that encourage curiosity, acceptance of failure, resourcefulness and improvement of communication skills. Below are some highlights of the benefits of STEM education.
STEM Fosters Important Skills
STEM Prepares Students for a Growing Career Field
STEM Education Creates Professionals Who Can Help Grow the Economy
Accessibility to STEM education starting in primary school to higher learning institutions leads to the growth of the modern innovation economy.10 STEM helps bolster the economy by introducing new employment opportunities, including creating jobs in rural areas, closing the racial wealth gap, working to resolve income inequality and increasing women in STEM’s salaries.
How a STEM Education Helped Robert F. Smith
STEM education has helped many succeed, and STEM-educated thought leader, dealmaker, entrepreneur and philanthropist Robert F. Smith is a great example. He earned his Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from Cornell University in 1985. During his high school years, Smith was persistent in his pursuit of a collegiate-level internship at Bell Labs. Smith’s tenacity for furthering his education and creating a professional pathway helped him work through the hiring obstacles he faced as a high school student applying for a college-level internship. He continued his internship at Bell Labs through his years at Cornell University, using his experience to further his career.
Following his graduation, Smith worked for Goodyear Tire and Rubber and Kraft General Foods as a chemical engineer. While at these companies, Smith developed patents for a coffee brewing element and a coffee brewer filtration device.
Smith then used the skills he learned through his STEM training, including critical thinking, adaptability and decision-making skills, to eventually pivot his career. He pursued his MBA from Columbia Business School in 1994 and founded Vista Equity Partners in 2000, a leading goal investment firm that specifically invests in enterprise software, data and technology-enabled businesses.
Smith believes a more inclusive STEM education system made up of scholars from underrepresented communities is a catalyst for a more diverse future workforce. He supports companies and initiatives that underscore the importance of STEM education, including internXL, a Fund II Foundation internship initiative, and Student Freedom Initiative (SFI).
Follow Robert F. Smith on LinkedIn to learn more about why STEM education is important and other related topics.