The demand for professionals in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field is far outpacing the actual number of STEM graduates. Despite this, American students are choosing to pursue other careers, and the number of non-STEM degrees obtained by students from 2000 to 2007 grew 50 percent faster than STEM degrees. Just to meet current demand, the U.S. must graduate more than 100,000 engineers per year. If we are to meet this goal, we must reverse the trend.
Both short- and long-term strategies are necessary. One recent initiative is inSPIRE STEM USA, a coalition of companies and organizations seeking to address immigration and workforce development needs and fill the STEM pipeline. It’s co-chaired by Maria Cardona, a principal of the Dewey Square Group and former adviser to Hillary Clinton. In the short-term, the coalition seeks to address the current STEM shortage by reforming the immigration process to make it easier for high-skilled workers to come to the U.S. In the long-term, it seeks to increase the number of STEM graduates by recruiting and training additional STEM teachers and improving access to computers in high schools.
Corporate America has a vested interest in this issue. In the following pages, we present the LatinoSTEM10, a selection of companies actively encouraging Latinos to enter the STEM field. While many companies sponsor STEM initiatives, there is often little effort to communicate this to Latinos, and their effectiveness is limited. The companies featured below are doing more than talking the talk among themselves. They’re directly engaging the Latino community through outreach. While our initial goal was to feature just 10 companies, we found it difficult to choose and included five honorable mentions on the list, for a total of fifteen. These companies will be honored at NUESTRO FUTURO, our fourth annual Latino Education Conference on STEM taking place at 9 AM-2 PM on October 23 at the Capitol HIlton in Washington, DC. Attendance is complimentary, so please join opinion leaders, government officials, corporate executives and others by registering at Latinomagazine.com.
Lockheed Martin will serve as the title host of the 25th annual conference of Great Minds in STEM to be held in in New Orleans on October 3-5, 2013, which provides the opportunity to recognize America’s top Latino engineers and scientists. Another initiative is Viva Technology, which stimulates interest in STEM through innovative lesson plans and hands-on activities. Lockheed Martin will support Viva Technology programs at four middle schools near Lockheed Martin facilities across the country.“Lockheed Martin is proud to partner with Great Minds in STEM. We share their commitment to keeping America technologically strong through the advancement of STEM careers and education,” said Maria Ruess, Vice President of International Business Development, Lockheed Martin Space Systems.
General Motors’ diverse workforce takes a hand in everything from “designing and engineering state-of-the-art plants and developing new vehicles and technologies to creating new marketing programs.” Ken Barrett, GM Chief Diversity Officer, spoke at the STEM Solutions Conference in Austin earlier this summer. “GM and the GM Foundation are committed to improving education in America to ensure the next generation of STEM professionals have the necessary skills and foundation to compete globally,” said Barrett. “There continues to be demand for high caliber talent, especially in the automotive industry. Through industry partnerships and our Buick Achiever’s Scholarship program, we’re providing resources to encourage student interest in STEM-related fields and ensure an excellent education is available for our future workforce.”
Members of the Hispanic employee resource group at Microsoft, known as the Hispanic Organization of Leaders in Action (HOLA), recently joined other Latino professionals to inspire minority students to pursue higher education at the HISPA Youth Conference in New Jersey. Ruby Longoria, Windows Consumer Partner & Channel Marketing Manager, serves as the HOLA chair. Earlier this year she spoke at an AHORA Student Day organized by LATINO Magazine in Dallas. At this event, students were encouraged to pursue STEM degrees by meeting successful Latinos in various careers in a fun, positive environment that demonstrates the value of staying in school and getting an education.
Earlier this year, the University of Phoenix joined forces with STEMConnector to convene a roundtable of key stakeholders to identify collaborative approaches to meet the growing demand for STEM professionals. The roundtable included a distinguished group of industry executives, policymakers, and academic leaders. They concluded that improving STEM education and employment will demand greater appreciation and support for the broader community of educators, human resource professionals, and workforce development leaders.
Lilly provides support for a number of educational initiatives such as the Providence Cristo Rey Work Study Program. Diane Cruz-Burke, an assistant general counsel for the company and former president of OLA Lilly---the company’s Latino employee resource group---sits on the board for Providence Cristo Rey High School in Indianapolis. The program provides tuition for students that spend one day a week working at Lilly. “We want to give them a vision of what they can do with an education and set them up to believe in themselves and build confidence and skills at the same time that they’re building up their academic credentials,” Cruz-Burke said. Lilly also supports Project Stepping Stone, an initiative of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA).
Merck supports a number of initiatives that provide financial, mentoring and career advancement counseling to Hispanic students. One of these is the Alliance/Merck Ciencia Hispanic Scholars Program, a partnership between the National Alliance for Hispanic Health and The Merck Foundation. The goal is to increase the number of Latino students pursing higher education and careers in STEM. Merck also works with HISPA and sponsors an annual summit at Princeton University with a focus on STEM careers. For its efforts, the Merck Hispanos Organization (MHO) was recognized with the “Champion of the Year” award from HISPA last year.
The Siemens STEM Academy was launched in 2010 with the goal of improving science literacy across the nation. The academy is a partnership between the Siemens Foundation, Discovery Education, College Board and Oak Ridge Associated Universities. The program works by engaging educators from around the country through professional development opportunities. They are provided with hands-on training and are exposed to new and groundbreaking learning methods and approaches to teaching. A monthly webinar series gives educators the opportunity to directly engage with the top scientists and thought-leaders in the country. Jenniffer Harper-Taylor is the President of the Siemens Foundation and has played a vital role in the implementation of the Siemens STEM Academy.
Solve for Tomorrow is an initiative by Samsung to raise enthusiasm for STEM education among middle school and high school students across the country. Every year, 75 schools are selected to receive a technology kit from Samsung, which includes a camcorder, laptop and Adobe software to create a video that supports their response. The top 15 videos are then posted on the Samsung website, where online voters choose the top 5 schools that advance to the final round. In 2012, students were tasked with the challenge of how STEM can help improve the environment in their communities. “The excitement this contest creates is wonderful,” said David Steel, Executive Vice President of Corporate Strategy of Samsung Electronics North America. “The public voting portion of the contest received a strong response from the online community. We hope that the challenge of this contest, together with the technology for winning schools, will help spark students’ passions to pursue careers that help improve the world through STEM.”
ExxonMobil supports a number of STEM-related programs around the country. The company is a generous supporter of the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), which helps middle school and high school students to succeed in Pre-AP and AP courses in math and science. Over 60,000 teachers from every grade level, including kindergarten, have also received training to aid them in the instruction of these subject areas in the classroom. Sara Martinez Tucker was named President and CEO of NMSI earlier this year. “What the staff and board have done to increase the number of students who are prepared to take rigorous college courses in mathematics and science in a relatively short period is most impressive,” said Tucker. “I am honored to have been selected and look forward to working with the team to strengthen NMSI’s impact.”
The Adobe Youth Voice Program has impacted the lives of more than 20,000 young people from all over the world. Representing 30 countries, participants draw attention to issues affecting their communities by creating videos, photo essays, music and other media. This is made possible through software, educational materials and training donated by San Jose-based Adobe. Students are also invited to apply for scholarships from the Adobe Foundation Creativity Scholarships, a million-dollar fund that helps students looking to attend college or receive technical training in a creative field. Miguel Salinas is the Program Director and Senior Manager, Corporate Responsibility for the Adobe Foundation. “Through a mix of supportive learning environments and powerful technologies, Adobe Youth Voices is helping educators in schools and beyond develop unique, breakthrough experiences that re-ignite a young person’s passion for learning,” he said.
The objective of the Programa Escuela initiative at Cisco is to inspire students from high-risk areas to pursue careers in technology. The Latino employee resource group at Cisco, Conexion, plays a major role in administering the program. The “City of the Future” contest is one of the events coordinated by the group every year that connects students from around the globe with each other. In one instance, students from Mexico City, Barcelona and Toledo took part in the contest and were able to connect to their peers and Cisco professionals through telepresence technology. Conexion also hosts an annual high school career fair in San Jose targeted towards students that may be at risk of dropping out. Attendees have the opportunity to meet with professionals and are exposed to some of the latest technology. “Encouraging students to pursue careers in STEM fields is a core pillar of our talent pipeline strategy. While the impact of our investment will take years to develop, it’s rewarding to know that we have expanded their horizons to include more possibilities for their future than they walked in with,” said Beatriz Medina Pratt, Corporate Quality Operations, Cisco.
Born in Cuba, Jorge Caballero arrived with his family in the U.S. as a child, and is now Lead Tax Partner at Deloitte with over 30 years experience working with large multinational clients. Based in New Jersey, he serves as the Deloitte Tax National Diversity and Inclusion Leader. “At Deloitte, diversity is part of who we are and STEM is the way to the future. We now employ about 5000 individuals with a science and technology background for our tech practice.” Caballero works closely with the Deloitte University, a $300 million facility in Dallas used for ongoing education with a Center for Inclusion. The company has also created the Jorge Caballero Student of the Year Award, now in its third year, which presents a scholarship at the annual convention of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU).
AT&T and the AT&T Foundation are investing $350 million in Aspire, a nationwide program which fuels the talent pipeline, according to Celeste Carrasco, Director of External and Public Affairs in Washington, DC.Aspire grants support local education-based groups that embrace social innovation or focus on STEM disciplines for students in underserved communities. AT&T employees, including members of the company’s Hispanic organization, HACEMOS, participate in the Aspire Mentoring Academy to help at-risk students succeed in the classroom. “Our mission is to encourage underserved students to follow their dreams, further their education, and succeed in fascinating fields like science and technology,” said Delia Hernandez, National President of HACEMOS.
Comcast supports the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics championship created by Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway. This year, the company sponsored 50 teams around the country, and Comcast employees mentored participating students. The Comcast Media and Technology Award is presented to the team that excels in communicating the FIRST mission using social media. “STEM education is crucial to strengthening not only our business, but also our economy. It helps drive innovation, which is truly the backbone of Comcast,” said Sherita T. Ceasar,Vice President of National Video Deployment Engineering for Comcast.
The Oracle Academy provides software, curriculum, hosted technology, training, support, and certification resources to secondary and post-secondary educational institutions for teaching purposes. The company also recognizes the importance of increasing diversity in the field of computer science, according to Lorilyn Owens, regional director, Oracle Academy “If we neglect to engage underrepresented students in computer science, we will lose the benefits of diverse perspectives and could miss out on the potential brilliance of an incredible talent pool. The diverse backgrounds of students and educators enrich academic experiences and foster competitive advantage,” she said. Oracle has also partnered with several organizations to provide STEM scholarships including the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.