STEM Education and Future Innovators in America

STEM Education and Future Innovators in America

05.22.13 | By

Did you know that fewer than 40 percent of students who enter college intending to major in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) field actually graduate with a STEM degree?

This is very troubling.

According to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, the U.S. will need to produce one million additional STEM graduates over the next decade to maintain its position as the world leader in science and technology innovation.  But the question remains, are there more than one million American students interested in entering the STEM fields and if not, will other countries such as China or Japan overtake our status as world leaders in medical innovation? 

Just last Friday at an open Advisory Committee meeting, Dr. Chris Austin, Director of NCATS (National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the NIH), spoke about the importance of STEM education and the role that the federal government plays in ensuring that future generations are interested in this important subject matter.  We echo Dr. Austin’s thoughts about the need to have a trained STEM workforce in America to make sure that students are equipped with the right educational tools to become future innovators.  

And I think most would agree that it is in all of our best interest for government, academia, industry and others to work together to help meet this important goal.  Collaboration, after all, is an essential ingredient to ensure America remains a beacon of hope and inspiration, a country that proudly represents an abundance of life-changing innovators who are leading the charge against some of our greatest health care and technological challenges. 

If you didn’t already know, America’s biopharmaceutical research companies, oftentimes partnering with other stakeholders, are playing a critical role in advancing STEM education and programs.  As the most R&D-intensive industry in the U.S., biopharmaceutical companies hire and work with some of the best and brightest scientists to help discover new transformational medicines for patients battling disease.  Without these talented scientists, important biomedical research work would cease to exist. 

In an upcoming report, we plan to unveil why biopharmaceutical research companies should be viewed as part of the solution to creating a 21st century STEM workforce.  But in the meantime, I urge you to check out a new effort PhRMA launched called I Am Research. Progress. Hope. – an initiative that gives biopharmaceutical scientists a platform to tell their own story of what inspired them to get into science and what advice they have for younger generations making decisions about their future career paths. 

 

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