Business Higher Education Forum hosts STEM Summit on Meeting National Goals

June 19, 2013

Our team was able to attend last week's Business Higher Education Forum Summit on the President's STEM Education Plan, which included the release of an exciting report funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR). 


Very relevant in the context of the work that FIU is undertaking in STEM Education reforms (SEE OUR STEM WEBSITE HERE).   FIU is also a grantee of ONR, which praised our own work at the conference.   Additionally, great dialogue had with Reggie Brothers, Deputy Asst Secy of Defense for Research, definitely an evangelist for Diversity + Innovation at DOD; and a presentation by Secretary of the NAVY Mabus who highlighted a 2M pilot program with the City of Chicago on project-based learning. 


Some of the more relevant takeaways from the summit dealt squarely with how best to engage Business/Industry as Partners

  • Focus on the most critical metric: How are we improving STEM retention in years 1, 2
  • Teacher Prep: Discipline Based Education Research
  • Internship Experiences in years 1, 2
  • Develop a local/regional "Kickstarter-like" menu of proven models, of which to steer Business towards
  • Connect an institution's capital campaign around grand challenges 

And as for highlights on the BHEF/ONR Report "Applying System Dynamics to meet President/PCAST's One Million STEM Plan"

  • This BHEF/Raytheon "System Dynamics Model" was used to assess impact of ONR-funded interventions on NAVY's STEM hiring needs 
  • Yet also intended to help decision-makers + funders understand options and opportunities for scale  
  • Might such an approach be able to be adapted for our own regional needs, impact assessment, corporate pitch, collaborative measurement? 
  • Model echoes previous analysis by the Presidents Council of Advisers on Science and Technology in that the Model found that the first 2 years is highest leverage strategy for impact; or in their terms "large scale disruption"
  • The approach tested impact of 6 intervention strategies and it is heartening to know FIU is tackling all of these in some fashion: 

1. Early undergraduate research internships

2. Bridge programs

3. Student learning communities

4. Scholarships

5. Course redesign to foster active student learning

6. Cognitive tutors 


And why might the NAVY be one of the more focused of agencies on STEM?  Of all branches, the report cites that they are the most dependent on bachelor's STEM degrees and STEM workers represent 35% of NAVY civilian workers.  More importantly, 50% of this workforce will be eligible to retire in 2020 leaving a gap of 5K STEM workers.  Hence investing over 80M in STEM Education program.. we just hope they stay true to the important mission of engaging Latinos and African Americans-- the least engaged currently in their STEM positions.