Oswego receives $872,523 grant for STEM majors

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has offered Oswego State $872,523 to promote the retention of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors. Oswego State was offered a grant $599,705 for the same purpose in April 2012. Fourteen freshman and fourteen sophomores have been offered $4,000 per year to stay in a STEM discipline, according to the Post Standard. In the fall of 2010, Oswego State was awarded a two-year NSF grant that was designed to further and promote the hiring of women in the STEM disciplines. New state-of-the-art science and math facilities worth $118 million are due to open next year as part of Oswego State’s commitment to retain students pursuing STEM degrees, according to the Oswego State website.

Government are looking to qualify more high school seniors for STEM majors in college, setting lower standards to qualify for these types of degrees and increasing lab time in order to stimulate more interest and accessibility to these fields. Many grants are available through non-profit organizations, federal and state loans and private companies. A complete listing of these grants is available through the official STEM website.

The United States has realized the need for STEM graduates worldwide and is giving various grants to colleges and the military in order to support the growth of this field. According to the STEM website, the United States Army is offering a chance to win up to $8,000 in bonds to U.S. citizens in grades six through nine who come up with innovative solutions to scientific problems.

According to the STEM website, “In 2006 the federal government sponsored 105 Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education programs at a dozen different Federal Agencies. These programs devoted approximately $3.12 billion to STEM education activities spanning pre-kindergarten through postgraduate education and outreach.” Many other scholarship funds are available locally and through state governments to foster the growth of STEM programs. Since America has fallen behind in the number of students interested in pursuing STEM, many private and public funds are offered to those pursuing these careers. As of 2010, the USDA is offering $2.9 million to those pursuing a STEM degree in college. Georgia is offering $19.4 million to those who major in STEM fields. These are only a few of the many scholarship opportunities available to college students. Many more scholarships and prizes are available to elementary, high school, and middle school students interested in the STEM fields.

In a country where “Made in China” is branded on so many goods, the economic state of China and other economic superpowers are crucial to the health of our nation, as well as global recovery from the 2008 recession. The prevalence of foreign goods in our country, primarily those from China, is so commonplace that they hardly get a second glance from consumers. This is because China is the largest major exporter in the world, even though the United States is not far behind. Interestingly enough, according to the CIA, our nation’s largest export in 2011 was petroleum, followed closely by machine parts.

The United States has a rich history of producing great innovators in the field of technology, from the men who worked hard to put the first American on the moon, to Martin Cooper (the man who led the team to invent the first cell phone), and most recently, to Bill Gates and the late Steve Jobs.

If necessity is the mother of invention, then invention is the mother of an expanding economy. The explosion of technology and global dependence on computers has led to an expanding deficit in the number of qualified professionals necessary to continue advancement in the STEM fields. This could be partially due to the lack of emphasis on obtaining advanced math skills in high school. It could also be because STEM fields are known for their difficulty at the collegiate level, so if a student does not have a natural aptitude for math and science in high school, many guidance counselors will not recommend STEM fields for students. Although a large portion of the innovations made in America recently has been technology-based, a mere 16 percent of college graduates major in a STEM field, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.

The American economy has been a topic of major concern as of late. The effects of the recession of 2007 have seriously impacted economies around the world, irrespective of their wealth. According to The Wall Street Journal, a large persistent unemployment rate and decreased consumer spending in our nation has seriously stunted the growth of the American economy as well as the recovery process worldwide. Even in several countries where economic growth is evident, such as India and China, recent declines in the growth rate of these large-scale economies will have a serious impact on global economic recovery.

According to The World Bank, pressures to prevent massive inflation have brought growth rates of these large economic engines have lowered from 7.3 percent to 6 percent from 2010 to 2011 respectively, and these developing countries are expected to decline further this year to 5.4 percent. For this reason, in November of 2011, China’s Ministry of Education announced their intention to weed out college majors with the highest unemployment rate after graduation. Even though the Chinese are going to college now more than ever, there is still a deficit in the STEM fields which China needs to fill.

While the national unemployment rate is over eight percent, college graduates with majors in STEM fields have an average unemployment rate below nine percent, according to the Wall Street Journal. College graduates with degrees in Liberal Arts had an unemployment rate of 13.9 percent, and those majoring in Architecture had an unemployment rate of 11.1 percent.

The majority of U.S. trade missions for 2012 concern science, technological, and mathematical disciplines. Those with a STEM background are needed today in our economy for many reasons. This is why many representatives in Congress support federal aid to encourage more students to pursue STEM fields

Representative Larry Bucshon of Indiana had this to say concerning federal efforts to increase the numbers of people pursuing STEM fields, “From 2000 to 2012, STEM jobs grew nearly 8%, from 2010 to 2018 that increase is expected to jump to nearly 17%. That is why STEM education is vital to the careers of the future.”

The world of technology is ever unfolding in directions unforeseen to the public as recently as 20 years ago. We need engineers and mathematicians to help find better solutions to the energy crisis worldwide. These advancements can stimulate the economy by encouraging consumers to spend more to stay at the forefront of technology, but they can also save our economy money in the long run. These professionals are also needed to help crack the code to curing cancer and AIDS. These fields are crucial to the world economy, since the majority of the U.S. trade shows this year are STEM-based. The demand for these fields worldwide is growing every day. The Oswego community is now benefiting from these grants and will hopefully continue to for the next several years at least.

Shirley Peng, right, a senior chemistry major and journalism minor at Oswego State, talks with Fehmi Damkaci, assistant professor of chemistry.

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