How does a kid from Baytown end up working on the spacecraft that will take us to Mars?
That’s what a Boeing engineer – and Baytown native – said to a group of students in Texas. And we could not agree more.
Our future engineers, scientists and leaders are sitting in classrooms all across Texas right now, and challenging, satisfying jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are abundant and growing. But there’s a gap between these students and STEM opportunities. How do we bring students from the inner cities, struggling suburbs and border towns and from a diverse range of socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds, into the education-to-employment pipeline?
To reach these students, we need the help of STEM leaders like Boeing, who show Texas students a future in STEM through positive role models, mentorship, and employment opportunities.
A recent report from the Georgetown University Public Policy Institute projects that the number of STEM jobs in Texas will increase by 22% by 2018, with almost all of these jobs requiring post-secondary education and training. And with many baby boomers retiring, Texas employers are already struggling to find skilled workers.
That challenge keeps the Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering (TAME) busy. Our programs are designed to build a strong STEM workforce that reflects Texas, with more women and minorities contributing to their communities and to the world through STEM careers. Through innovative, hands-on programming for students and educators across Texas, we are helping new perspectives and skillful minds enter the STEM workforce. Together, we’re building a future of innovation, enhancing U.S global competitiveness – and showing kids a path between Baytown and Mars.
Our Trailblazer program, for example, is a science museum-on-wheels that visits schools and communities across the state to engage and inspire students to pursue higher education in STEM. And our TAME Clubs offer students the chance to build skills through engineering design challenges and other hands-on activities. All TAME programs are offered at no cost to students, teachers or parents.
Through TAME programs, students are introduced to STEM concepts linked to real-life educational and career opportunities; invited into a supportive environment for cultivating STEM and problem-solving skills; and connected to an invaluable network of peers, mentors, and future employers.
None of this would be possible without the partnership and support of tremendous organizations like Boeing.
As Boeing celebrates the science and technology behind their first century of aerospace excellence, we are proud to partner with them on our shared second century – one that will be full of innovative, diverse ideas driven by inspired, skilled and hard-working Texans seeking to, as Bill Boeing once said, “Build something better.”
Savita Raj is the Executive Director for the Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering. This op-ed piece also appeared in The Pearland Journal, The Pasadena Citizen, The Friendswood Journal, Deer Park Broadcaster, and The Bay Area Citizen.