There has been a category five crisis in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) occupations or so they say. For many years, there has been a repeated call for more scientist, and engineers in America. Today China produces about half a million scientist and engineers. India produce about 50,000 scientist and engineers. According to the National Science Foundation, in 2011 the United States colleges and universities awarded nearly 734,000 Science and Engineering degrees. There have been countless initiatives to increase the amount of STEM graduates. In 2009 former President Barack Obama developed the campaign ‘Educate to Innovate’ to encourage students to pursue STEM occupations. Here in the Crescent City, Dr. Calvin Mackie created STEM NOLA, a program designed K-12 and college students to promote STEM education.
“Our goal here at STEM NOLA is to put STEM in the hands of as many people as possible,” said Dr. Calvin Mackie, President of STEM Nola. “We have to make STEM as ubiquitous as sports. Every year, right now, anywhere between two million to three million jobs go unfulfilled because people do not have the proper skills.”
For the last decade there has been considerable concern regarding the shortage of STEM workers to meet the demands of the labor force. However, there is also information that suggests there this is a surplus of STEM workers in certain fields.
“If you look at Xavier there are a lot of people graduating in biology and chemistry, but like in math it’s not as many people graduating. So I believe there is a spot shortage in the STEM graduation rates,” said Keilah Ebanks, the staff instructor for the Math Resource Center.
Moreover the ongoing question whether there is a surplus or a shortage has yet to be answered. The courses for STEM majors is a predominant factor for the lack of students graduating.
“There is a shortage because the courses aren’t just rigorous just for us to succeed but it is also rigorous to not let everyone pass,” said Gabriel Ekechukwu, a sophomore biology pre-med major at Xavier University of Louisiana.