Inside Rensselaer
Rensselaer To Support Regional Progressive Dialogues on STEM Education
Rensselaer To Support Regional Progressive Dialogues on STEM Education
Rensselaer To Support Regional Progressive Dialogues on STEM Education
The Central New York region event, hosted by Syracuse University, featured speaker Wanda Ward, acting assistant director of the Directorate for Education and Human Resources, National Science Foundation.
Rensselaer To Support Regional Progressive Dialogues on STEM Education
Following up on a statewide event held on campus last June, Rensselaer will continue a “progressive dialogue” series about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education across New York state. Regional dialogues are planned for through December. The initiative, funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is to design a strategic roadmap for increasing the number of students — from all backgrounds — aspiring to and prepared for STEM disciplines.

The goal of the “progressive dialogue” is to provide a forum for stakeholders representing sectors that include: business, PK-20 education, government, corporate and private foundations, community-based organizations, and parents to suggest strategies to help prepare the next generation of New York’s graduates to create, innovate, and compete in the global economy. Regional dialogues are scheduled to take place across New York state in areas that include Long Island, Rochester, Buffalo, New York City, Syracuse, the Southern Tier, the Capital Region, and Yonkers.

Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson noted that there is a “Quiet Crisis” brewing, in the gap between the innovation ecosystem’s need for scientists, engineers, and technologically skilled professionals, and the success of the education system in producing them.

“Our colleges and universities need to graduate scientists and engineers to take the place of those who are now retiring — to create the base for future innovation. As we do this, we must do a better job of recruiting the underrepresented majority of women and minorities,” Jackson said. “Today, universities, government at all levels, and businesses must work together to improve mathematics and science education from the very beginning of our children’s educational endeavors, to help them understand the excitement of discovery and innovation, to nurture them — and to lead them to advanced study. Our young people are the base for sustaining our innovation ecosystem through the next generations. We also need to work harder to retain high-level talent from abroad, especially those obtaining advanced degrees in science and engineering from American universities.”

As a leading educator in the STEM fields, Rensselaer is committed to building a national network of partnerships that focus on identifying, nurturing, and providing educational development for burgeoning scientists and engineers. The regional “progressive dialogue” events are also supported by a grant from AT&T that will serve to broaden outreach and communication efforts.

“The world has undergone extraordinary changes, many brought to us through science and technology,” said Eddie Ade Knowles, vice president for student life and the project’s leader. “Unfortunately, the pipeline of qualified young people is leaky. According to statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), fewer than 300,000 college students are majoring in STEM fields, and only 167,000 are expected to be STEM college graduates by 2011. We cannot risk talent slipping through the cracks, and all of us must get engaged in the effort to excite, encourage, and prepare young people to pursue careers in STEM fields.”

Knowles also noted that the progressive dialogue will provide an opportunity for thought leaders across New York state to seek ways to encourage young people — including women and minority groups traditionally underrepresented in the STEM disciplines — adult women and men re-entering the workplace or pursuing continuing education, armed forces veterans, and persons with disabilities to pursue careers in STEM fields.”
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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 3, Number 14, December 11, 2009
©2009 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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