Expert insight. Spirited discussions. Real progress.
Knowledge drives action, and at U.S. News STEM Solutions you’ll find a wealth of both.
Our conference program will feature an impressive roster of speakers—highly sought-after STEM all-stars from across technology, education and government with unique insights and great ideas—who will work with you to find optimal answers to your tough challenges.
This year’s conference combines a variety of formats. We’re working on the details of the agenda now, but here’s a first draft of session topics:
HIGHER EDUCATION: BUILDING A MORE ROBUST COLLEGE PIPELINE
Bridging the Gap: Overcoming STEM Fatigue. Fewer than 4 in 10 students who enter college intending to major in STEM actually do so. Improving recruitment and retention is one of the most crucial challenges, particularly as STEM-interested students move from high school to college or from two-year to four-year colleges. What’s working to combat STEM drop-off? This session will discuss the most promising efforts to shore up the pipeline, from “bridge programs” linking high schools and colleges to effective partnerships between higher education institutions working to boosting STEM completion rates.
The Changing Landscape of Online Degrees. Georgia Tech’s new wholly online–and cheap– master’s of computer science might be the way of the future, or, because these courses are extremely costly to produce and execute well, it could be wildly unrealistic as a model. San Jose State University has seen low performance results on the MOOCs that it has offered for credit. Gain new insight on the role of MOOCs in STEM higher education from university officials who have tested the waters.
The Rise of Practical Graduate Education. By some estimates, about 2.6 million new and replacement jobs will require an advanced degree by 2020. But outside of law and business schools, graduate education has tended to produce the next generation of academics, not hit-the-ground-running managers and employees with both technical and soft skills. That’s changing, thanks to the rise of the professional master’s degree as well as revamped master’s and Ph.D. programs that build in experiential learning. This session will showcase programs in engineering, physics and other disciplines that are successfully graduating students with advanced STEM degrees and the skills employers desire.
Report From the Teaching Front. The Association of American Universities is spearheading a five-year initiative to discover and spread the best evidence-based practices in undergraduate STEM education. University officials involved in the project share their experiences implementing instructional techniques that show promise. Internships/co-ops and other forms of experiential learning, writing-to-learn STEM, undergraduate research opportunities, learning-assistant model of instruction, and rapid feedback assessment are among those being tested out.
REVAMPING CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION
The Stackable, Portable Credential. The age of customized credentials is here, from colleges and corporations awarding online badges for specific skills to manufacturers, community colleges and career and technical education programs offering recognition for precise training and competency-based skill attainment. Many experts see such portable, stackable credentials as a pathway to a job or an associate’s degree. This panel will examine some of the standout credentials that employers value—and which lead to STEM jobs—as well as what’s necessary to engage more students and young professionals in these pathways.
Inside the New Career and Technical Education Career Clusters. Similar to the Common Core State Standards for mathematics, state career and technical education directors are establishing a uniform set of standards for their programs: the Common Career Technical Core, built around 16 “career clusters.” STEM is one cluster and a range of other are aligned with STEM, such as manufacturing, IT, and health science. Forty-two states and the District of Columbia are participating. This session will explore the emerging effort and the particulars of effective CTE programs that are worth implementing across the country.
COMMUNITY COLLEGES: FILLING THE VOID
The Community College, Reinvented. The American Association of Community Colleges and the Center for Community College Student Engagement have both recently reported on a pressing need for wide-scale reinvention if schools are going to counteract low student success rates and employment preparation that is inadequately connected to job market needs. How best to engage (and retain) students? Some of the recommendations: Add some of the same “high-impact” practices that four-year colleges have been employing, such as learning communities, student success classes and intensive support, and move away from a system that allows picking and choosing of courses to one based on defined career pathways, with a focus on job skills and employability. This session offers a look at how several forward-thinking institutions are having an impact in the STEM arena.
First Comes Math: The Need for Remediation. Many studies have shown that only about 12 percent of community college students who plan to go on for a four-year STEM degree start off capable of college-level math, the foundation of everything in STEM. It’s clear that math remediation is key to feeding the STEM pipeline, but the typical developmental course is a turnoff and fully 70 percent of students who place into these classes don’t complete them, dropping out of a degree program or changing direction away from STEM. This session looks at novel promising approaches to accelerated and engaging remediation.
Fast Track to a Paycheck. Around the country, partnerships between community colleges and local businesses are producing skilled employees for actual jobs. The seven community colleges in Chicago and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, for example, have launched an initiative called “College to Careers” to make sure the curricula are turning out the people the Windy City needs, training health care workers at Malcolm X College, for example, and IT professionals at Wilbur Wright. Jefferson Community and Technical College in Kentucky customizes and modularizes its training to produce workers with the necessary skills for several local companies. What are some success stories, and how can other colleges replicate them?
WHERE IT ALL STARTS: K-12 EDUCATION
Spending Smart on Classroom Technology. Blended learning, flipped classrooms, personalized instruction, project-based curricula. These next-generation educational tools carry a lot of buzz and many advocates say they have the power to transform education. But do they help bolster K-12 STEM student achievement? Teachers and administrators from several schools will share their success stories about how to effectively implement these practices and provide their take on what’s worth investing in.
Making STEM Stick in Middle School. Building a child’s interest in STEM should start very early, experts say, but should really catch hold by middle school, when many students come to think that STEM is or isn’t for them. In addition to classroom work, effective pre-teen engagement with science and math requires some combination of innovative teaching methods, out-of-school and informal learning programs, mentorship opportunities, and partnerships with other schools at every level. This session, led by middle school teachers and administrators, will explore what’s working to pique, capture and sustain middle schoolers’ interest in STEM.
Giving Computer Science a Boost. Many STEM proponents say that computer science is an increasingly essential skill and should be offered early in a child’s education. Yet most schools don’t offer classes in programming. Research has shown that computer science lessons from an early age can increase both interest and achievement in STEM fields. Panelists will provide an update on the push to make computer science a pillar of K-12 education, as well as review the research on its benefits.
Cutting-Edge Science. Only seven states have adopted the Next Generation Science Standards – Rhode Island, Kentucky, Kansas, Maryland, Vermont, California and Delaware – while many others have raised concerns about some of the topics included (climate-change and evolution) and associated costs. What are the next steps for widespread adoption, implementation and policy, and how will the growing criticism affect enactment?
Music, Magic and More. A look at some unique new avenues and research for STEM engagement, from the link between music, creativity and student performance in math and science to using magic to excite students about STEM.
STEM Hollywood-style. Many STEM advocates see the arts and pop culture as an especially important component in stimulating students’ interest in science – especially in developing skills like creativity and innovation. In this session, two experts demonstrate the power of bringing science and math alive through pop culture and the movies
THE CORPORATE CONNECTION
A Crash Course in Talent Recruitment. Finding STEM-savvy workers is fast becoming a critical imperative for a growing number of U.S. companies. Learn from employers firsthand about their talent needs in the short-term and what they’re doing to fill those spots: internships and apprenticeships; certifications and on-the-job training; continuous learning; mentorship programs; reaching out to untapped talent pools such as women, minorities and veterans; and formalizing structured career pathways.
Creating a Sustainable Commitment to STEM. In today’s corporate world, improving STEM education and increasing public awareness of STEM career opportunities are essential to ensuring a steady flow of workers with tomorrow’s skills today. Many companies are employing multiple initiatives across many sectors to achieve these goals, including working with K-12 and higher education institutions to develop curriculums, inspiring and engaging youngsters through employee mentor programs and teacher workshops, instituting formal STEM councils, developing relationships with a variety of stakeholders and becoming active members of the STEM public policy debate. Several executives from companies leading the way in STEM will explain their thinking, their programs, and their progress.
Building Soft Skills in Hard-Core Techies. Many employers are discovering that some of their tech-savvy employees lack soft skills–critical thinking and problem solving, leadership, ability to work in teams and collaborate, and flexibility. This session will explore what the research shows on the importance of soft skills to a business’s success and bottom line and what the workforce development options are–from off-the-shelf training programs to intensive workshops.
Putting Veterans to Work for STEM. Over the next five years, more than 1 million veterans are expected to leave the military, according to the Corporate Executive Board Company. A wide range of job training and placement programs are developing, particularly around the STEM disciplines, to harness the talents of those who have served, from nonprofit efforts like Military to Medicine and industry-wide corporate programs and partnerships. This session will highlight several approaches to tapping existing skills and developing new ones in veterans.
FOCUS ON ADVANCED MANUFACTURING
The Return of the Apprenticeship. Employers are taking the initiative and partnering with community colleges to bring back the apprenticeship. In Tacoma, Wash., for example, students at Bates Technical College are learning to operate sophisticated machinery on an aerospace company’s factory floor while also getting an associate’s degree. Thanks to strong encouragement from the White House and the executive suite and major industry associations, apprenticeships are getting new life as a way to fill jobs in local companies while also allowing students to get academic credit. Learn how to structure a similar partnership in your locality.
Ramping Up the Pool of Middle-Skill Workers. The U.S. will experience a shortage of 5 million technicians by 2018, hampering the ability of advanced manufacturing companies to innovate. To fill this need, community colleges throughout the country have begun transforming themselves into advanced manufacturing centers, partnering with local industry to provide training. States are also looking at other options for upgrading technical training. This session will explore the middle-skill arena by looking at the nature of these jobs as well as methods companies can employ to help fill the gap.
Keeping Manufacturing at Home. As the U.S. loses more manufacturing, a cascade of negative consequences follows–including a brain drain as scientists follow the jobs out of the country and domestic product innovation begins to decline. This panel will discuss what steps can be taken on the local, state and federal levels to stop the migration of advanced manufacturers overseas. These can range from offering tax credits to manufacturers who produce products in the U.S., providing the infrastructure upgrades needed by manufacturers, eliminating the backlog for patent and trademark applications, and developing innovation clusters to create a collaborative environment through research, business incubators and training programs.
CHANGING THE FACE OF STEM
Closing the Management Gender Gap. Despite the presence of high-profile leaders, women are still greatly underrepresented in middle and senior management in many STEM fields. To address this persistent problem, companies ranging from e-commerce dynamos to multinational corporations are instituting innovative new programs to get more women into leadership positions. Panelists will discuss a range of approaches, including tech companies joining forces to underwrite a special training program for junior women engineers, the creation of robust in-house mentoring programs, and partnerships between companies, universities and major women’s professional organizations to develop cultural initiatives to identify and eliminate biases in the hiring, training and promotion of women and to address key issues like work-life balance.
Leading by Example: The Crucial Role of Mentors. Inspiring and engaging individuals who might not consider a STEM education or career is a challenging goal. Hear firsthand from a panel of mentors and coaches about what works and how best to cultivate relationships between individuals of different generations, genders and ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The mentors will also discuss how to engage parents, who may lack educations themselves, in their children’s quests for college and career development.
Serving Underserved Youth. A growing number of in-school and out-of-school programs are aimed at advancing STEM education in historically underserved communities, particularly low-income, disadvantaged and at-risk youths. Our panelists will explore how to create programs that show great potential for actively engaging these youth in 21st century learning, including incorporating STEM into their lives, providing necessary funding, partnering with local schools and community groups and effectively providing a clear pathway to a job.
ON THE POLICY FRONT
Federal Legislative Update. Funding a STEM master teacher corps. The Committee on STEM Education’s 5-year strategic plan. Reforming H-1B visas. These topics and many more related to STEM remain on the docket as the 113th Congress enters its closing months. A number of the key players in STEM from Capitol Hill and the federal government will share their policy outlook and ideas about the promise of national STEM initiatives—and provide a realistic assessment of what’s likely for passage or funding—and what’s not.
State Policy Roundup. While federal agencies and lawmakers scramble to make inroads in STEM, momentum is building in the states. From courting companies with job training and incentive programs to forging pipeline programs between two- and four-year colleges and businesses, state policymakers have made significant strides. The National Governors Association STEM network, for instance, includes 33 states committed to advancing key science and math education policies and the STEMx network of states has swelled to 19. This session will go inside several state programs and policies, with an eye to everything from funding to scaling up what’s working, and offer insight from a wide range of state-level STEM leaders.
Join the discussion as a panel of experts facilitates a deep dive into some of the challenges and obstacles that hamper progress in the push to plug the STEM pipeline. Attendees are encouraged to ask questions, debate the experts and fellow audience members, frame the issues, and offer practical solutions and real-life examples.
The Common Core Backlash: As of 2013, 45 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core State Standards for mathematics. But as implementation has been rolling out, criticism has been growing, prompting legislative battles in a number of states. Come join the authors of the standards and top proponents of these new uniform benchmarks for achievement as they compile, with your help, a set of talking points that can help convince dissenters that the standards are critical to the future of the nation, its citizens and its economy.
The STEM Crisis Myth. A number of experts have recently written articles, op-eds and reports arguing that there is no STEM worker shortfall. On the contrary, some insist, there is a more than adequate supply of STEM workers. We’ll bring together the opposing sides to explain their rationales—and give you the opportunity to dispute, refute, support, or agree.
The Holy Grail: Scalability: Change the Equation and the Business Roundtable recently recognized a handful of programs for their strong promise and potential for national scalability in helping more students become college- and career-ready. Representatives of those bodies, as well as leaders of the programs with the new imprimaturs, will provide an analysis of the structure of their programs and offer advice that can help workshop attendees follow their leads.
Culture Shock: Valuing Academic Achievement. Many experts say the U.S. won’t experience a sea change in STEM until our culture values academic achievement as much as or more so than sports and entertainment. How does the U.S. promote academic achievement, particularly in STEM, among school-age kids? Are there lessons we could import from other countries? Is it possible to change the opinion of our celebrity-obsessed society? We invite participants to contemplate whether such a change is feasible in the U.S. and what short- and long-term steps are required to achieve such a turnabout.
The Numbers Game. What career opportunities can I suggest to my sixth-grade star pupil in math? Which out-of-school programs should my company support? Which STEM degree-holders have the most potential for a management track? How much do organic chemists earn? Everyone is looking for answers, to test hypotheses, to measure performance, to evaluate outcomes, to target funding. And that means data. Join in this discussion with a roundtable of research experts in the STEM world as they pinpoint the best data resources, as well as identify those areas where more attention should be devoted.
THE CHANGE-MAKERS: ONE-ON-ONE
In the growing movement to provide practical solutions to the STEM jobs and education dilemma, a handful of individuals stand out as driving forces, and we look to them for guidance, counsel and continuing to blaze a trail. Here’s your chance to get to know some of them. Come prepared for an extended Q&A session via a facilitated discussion.
There is no shortage of expertise in the STEM arena. Come join the nation’s leading advocates of STEM in an informal setting, as they stand by to answer your questions and explain how their organizations or programs can help. This is your opportunity to learn, network, chat, and partner all things STEM.