More than 50 educators, representatives of industry, and community leaders attended a New Jersey STEM Pathways Network planning meeting on Oct. 12, 2017 at Camden County College.
The idea? To ultimately find a way to excite students – especially young women and minority students – about careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Camden County College President Don Borden opened the event, saying that collaboration was the key to creating opportunities and solving problems.
Kim Case, who is managing the STEM Pathways project, said she was pleased with the high level of energy from attendees at the event.
“Before long, we feel that we are going to make a major impact on STEM education in New Jersey. Our goal is to draw from the strength of our partners and become the leading source of STEM innovation in our state. Today was a great step forward,” said Case, who is also the executive director of the Research & Development Council of New Jersey.
David C. Turner and John Drzymkowski, of the Siemens Industry Building Technologies Division, worked with the group and said they planned to also attend other STEM Pathways events in New Jersey.
The need to provide more opportunities for STEM education is clear:
• In New Jersey, women hold less than 20 percent of the degrees/certificates in computing, and only 28 percent of the degrees/certificates in engineering.
• Minority students are falling behind their white counterparts in science and math achievement. In New Jersey, 61 percent of white 4th grade students were rated at or above proficient in math versus 21 percent of African American students and 28 percent of Latino students. The results in science were equally troubling, 52 percent of New Jersey 4th graders being at or above proficient versus 12 percent of African American students and 15 percent of Latino students.
• In New Jersey, STEM jobs pay a median salary of almost $43/hour, nearly double that of non-STEM jobs. Additionally, the unemployment rate for STEM workers is roughly half that of non-STEM workers.
There are four STEM ecosystems in that are part of the New Jersey STEM Pathways Network — in Newark, Jersey City, Delran and in Camden and Salem counties.
The NJ STEM Pathways Network (NJSPN) was founded by Secretary of Higher Education Rochelle Hendricks in 2014. The NJ SPN is chaired by Laura Overdeck, Founder and President of Bedtime Math and Chair of the Overdeck Family Foundation.
Pastor Keith Davis of the Camden Dream Center, Margo Venable, executive dean of the Camden County College and Ken Robell, assistant dean of Academic Affairs at Salem Community College, addressed the group. The three are leaders of the South Jersey ecosystem serving Camden and Salem counties.
The NJ SPN, a public-private strategic alliance, is a public-private strategic alliance established to inform the alignment of STEM resources, support an education-to-workforce STEM pipeline, identify exemplary formal and informal learning opportunities, and promote STEM career pathway awareness.
For more information: https://njstempathways.org/