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DOD Official Emphasizes the Importance of STEM Careers
By C. Pocock Posted:July 27, 2013 0 Comments
On July 25, 2013, the Patriots Technical Training Center and the YMCA hosted the "Thingamajig". Held in support of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers, the event placed focus on increasing minority involvement in STEM education. The Department of Defense sent a senior official to the event who praised the students who were in attendance.

A total of 3,000 students from elementary and high school attended the STEM exhibition. Clarence A. Johnson weighed in on the event. As the director of diversity management and equal opportunity at the Department of Defense, Johnson spoke about the need for a greater focus on STEM education in the coming years. Johnson presented a speech to the audience about career opportunities in the field. The Department of Defense supports events like the Thingamajig because they are helping to change the future of the nation. Johnson reached out to students who are considering degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics with information about careers in the government. Students can pursue careers in the armed forces or work as a civilians at the Department of Defense. All of the STEM occupations help to protect the nation and advance technology.

The Convention

Designed to stimulate and exercise the minds of students, the Thingamajig included a series of hands-on activities and challenges. Its goal was to educate students on nutrition, recycling, science, fitness, aeronautics, creative arts and engineering. Altogether, the event hosted a total of 50 different workshops and 13 invention challenges. The leading invention challenge involved groups of ten students. Over the course of an hour, the teams competed to solve the Presidential Challenge with only the materials that they were given. After the Presidential Challenge, a reception was held by the United States Patent & Trademark Office.

Engaging Minorities

Back in June, the Defense Department released a statement about new recruitment methods for science and technology. The deputy assistant secretary of defense for research, Reginald Brothers, discussed new methods for involving minorities. Historically, minorities have low participation levels for science, engineering, technology and mathematics. In the next few years, the majority of citizens will be from a minority. If more minority workers do not enter STEM fields, the United States will fall further behind. As technology accelerates, this need will grow even further.

In an effort to change this situation, the Defense Department has invested $150 million into STEM programs for minorities. One of the ways they can attract new individuals to the field is through partnerships with schools and colleges. The Department of Defense operates pilot programs in different parts of the country that are focused on engaging students in careers they would not consider normally. Over the past couple of years, these programs have met with success. At the Thingamajig event, 3,000 students were exposed to science, engineering, mathematics and technology. These elementary and high school students were able to participate in challenges that were outside of the tedium of daily schoolwork.

The Importance of Technology

Over the last 20 years, the United States has fallen increasingly far behind in science, engineering, technology and mathematics. At the same time, other industrialized nations have increased the number of degrees granted in STEM education. Emerging countries like India and China have joined the fray. Their commitment to education has allowed their economies to grow drastically over the last few years. If the United States cannot create more graduates in science, engineering, technology and mathematics, it will fall behind. To maintain an economic and technological edge, the United States has to graduate students who are skilled in STEM education. Through the innovative programs offered by the Department of Defense and events like the Thingamajig, the balance can be tipped in favor of technology education.