Promoting STEM curriculum and creating modern tech facilities in America’s schools isn’t just a trend, it’s necessity. The reawakening of STEM programs is attempting to close the skills gap between what schools are teaching and the jobs that are actually in demand. The U.S. Department of Commerce estimated that by 2018, the U.S. will have more than 1.2 million unfilled STEM jobs because there will not be enough qualified workers to fill them. Industry, recognizing the impending crisis, is stepping up to the plate. Partnerships and councils like the Global Stem Alliance are forming to raise awareness of and interest in STEM opportunities and provide real-life training to better prepare our students for careers in STEM industries.
Arrowhead High School in Hartland, Wis. has transformed its old industrial arts space into the school’s new Engineering, Manufacturing, and Design Center. The new learning space provides a large design area, an innovation lab, two engineering labs and a manufacturing lab to facilitate the concepts of identifying problems, creating solutions, and implementing them in the manufacturing phase—necessary skills for careers in design and production. The brain child of an industrious committee, which included local manufacturing and engineering leaders in demand for skilled trades workers, the state-of-the-art space provides much-expanded opportunities in the engineering and manufacturing curriculum. The space is outfitted with equipment donated by local manufacturing and engineering firms. Laura Myrah, Arrowhead’s superintendent, summed up the advantages of this cooperative new solution: “This center gives students the opportunities to create, research, innovate, collaborate, problem solve, make and lead. For area businesses, the center will provide a pipeline of motivated, skilled employees who can begin to fill the manufacturing job gap throughout our region and beyond. While this project is unique to Arrowhead, it serves as a model for other high schools across Wisconsin and the Midwest.”