The commander of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Lieutenant General Thomas P. Bostnik took a trip to visit students at Ashurst Elementary School. He was accompanied by the director of the Department of Defense Education Activity, Marilee Fitzgerald. This trip took place on May 20 and marks the signing of a new agreement between the two groups.
At the heart of the new agreement is a commitment to science, technology, engineering and math programs. The goal is to support advances in STEM education the U.S. and around the world. The new program will begin at Ashurst Elementary School and is intended to spread to elementary and secondary schools across the globe. While at the school, Lieutenant Bostnik paid tribute to the teachers. He focused on the importance of education and learning in STEM fields.
Bostnik talked about the active role that that Army Corps of Engineers was prepared to take to promote STEM programs. In the United States, education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics is quickly falling behind the rest of the world. To keep the United States competitive economically, more students must be educated in STEM programs, according to Bostnik. Students that begin focusing on these programs now can enter related career fields as adults.
In one quote, Bostnik pointed out that only 14 countries create a smaller percentage of engineers than the United States. Some of these countries include places like Cambodia, Bangladesh and Cuba. When 100 American students graduate from college, only four of them become engineers. Across the Pacific, 31 percent of college graduates in China enter the field of engineering. In Russia, this number is 10. The lower number of engineering graduates is causing the United States to fall behind economically. Without new minds in STEM fields, inventions and new techniques will be stymied for years to come.
Director Fitzgerald seconded this opinion and discussed how excited she was for the new program. The Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) is committed to helping teachers and students achieve these outcomes. Fitzgerald expressed how honored the organization was to partner with the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Through this program, they will be able to develop a new generation that has the ability and skills to make the United States a leader in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
This program will focus on creating civil works projects at the Army Corps of Engineers that correspond to the curriculum offered by the DoDEA. Interns and students will work together to develop projects. At the end of the program, the projects will be entered into a competition and winners will receive an award at one of the bi-annual ceremonies.
The Department of Education has forecasted that STEM-related fields will see a job growth of 14 percent by 2020. In fields like biomedical, computer science and mathematics, this need is going to be even greater. Currently, the United States is unable to meet the demand for graduates in STEM fields.
In response to the lack of trained graduates, the DoDEA and Army Corps of Engineers have designed a program that will work with the goal of the White House and Department of Education to prepare students for a globalized economy. These new programs will focus on improving STEM education and creating global leaders.