You may have heard of the term ‘STEM’. It is an acronym that stands for ‘science, technology, engineering, and mathematics’. In short, it’s a catch all term for careers that rely on those subjects.

It may seem like common sense to say that our country relies heavily on these careers. Maintaining America’s dominant position in the world requires a large workforce with proficiency in these fields. American businesses require large numbers of engineers, designers, and knowledgable technicians to design and manufacture the products that we rely on everyday. The cars we drive? Designed by mechanical engineers. The gas in the car? Extracted by petroleum engineers. The computer I’m typing this on? Designed by electrical engineers. The equipment in hospitals? Designed by biomedical engineers. The energy that is produced to electrify your home? Produced in plants maintained by nuclear engineers.

Obviously, we need people trained in STEM careers in order for our nation to function, and the reliance that we have on these careers is only going to increase over the course of the next decade. In fact, the projected increases in the number of STEM jobs far exceeds the growth in other sectors of the economy.

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Source: http://www.ed.gov/stem

On average, the wages that STEM careers provide far exceed those of non-STEM jobs.

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Source: http://www.esa.doc.gov/Blog/2011/08/03/stem-where-are-women

Unfortunately, fewer and fewer people are receiving education in these fields. People just aren’t interested in becoming proficient enough in these subjects to acquire the required degrees and certification to obtain these types of careers. In fact, this problem is grave and systemic. According to the Department of Education, the United States currently ranks 25th in mathematics and 17th in science among industrialized nations. That is pitiful, and it needs to change if the United States is going to maintain it’s relevancy in the coming decades. How can we possibly compete with China when they’re churning out competent STEM trained laborers by the millions?

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Source: http://www.lee.edu/stem/grads-by-nation/

As a human biology major, I am extremely happy with the growth that STEM careers are projected to receive over the next decade. It increases the probability that I will receive a well paying career, through which I can support myself and eventually a family. Unfortunately, I seem to belong to a small minority of students who share my dream. The supply does not exist to meet the growing demand for STEM educated workers, and it’s going to really harm all of us if it does not change soon.

Break out those math books, kids.

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