Addressing Gaps in U.S. STEM Education

Addressing Gaps in U.S. STEM Education: Ensuring the Future of Biopharmaceutical Innovation

01.22.14 | By Karl Uhlendorf

It’s been widely reported that the United States has a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education problem. As we fall behind other countries in STEM proficiencies, our leadership in innovation across sectors is at risk. In the biopharmaceutical research industry, we are dependent on highly skilled workers with extensive STEM knowledge to develop novel, life-saving medicines and diagnostics. Sustaining a STEM educated workforce is of critical importance to us, to patient health and to U.S. global competitiveness. That’s why we commissioned a report by Battelle Technology Partnership Practice, being released today, to examine the full scope of the situation and identify how the industry is helping to provide a solution to this national issue.

According to the report, biopharmaceutical companies and their corporate foundations are making significant contributions to U.S. STEM education through a broad range of innovative programs in communities across the country. They are making large financial donations through grants, donating equipment and/or facilities to use, volunteering time/expertise and more. They are encouraging new approaches to science education – engaging students and teachers through hands-on experimentation and using real-world scientific tools and curricula to connect with and educate students and teachers in lab experiences. And, they are striving to create a diverse 21st century workforce, focusing efforts on women and minorities to ensure all Americans can pursue rewarding careers in STEM-related fields.

The report shows that over the past five years, biopharmaceutical companies have funded more than 90 individual initiatives focused on students and/or teachers in STEM-related fields impacting over 1.6 million students and 17,500 teachers. But the job is not done. As a nation, and in a time when schools are forced to reduce their budgets, it is imperative that all sectors continue to invest in the next generation of innovative scientists, technology gurus, engineers, and mathematicians. I hope you will read our report for inspiration and join us in supporting the 21st century workforce that will foster our economic leadership.

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