STEM Awareness Forum Recognized by U.S. House of Representatives

The aggressive efforts of the College of Science and Technology (COST) to improve and advance the participation of students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education were hailed in a proclamation of the U.S. House of Representatives initiated by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.

The COST STEM Awareness Forum was held on Friday March 25th to bring into focus in the community the seriousness of the STEM workforce shortfall and the attendant issue of the STEM student body shortfall. At present, only 6% of all 24-year-old Americans hold an undergraduate degree in STEM disciplines; for African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans, the percentage hovers at 2-3%.  Even with the enormous amount of activity and emphasis in STEM education, the University still does not receive a significant number of students whose intent is to study STEM subjects. The objective of the STEM Awareness Forum was to make the community aware of the national STEM crisis, discuss roles that STEM plays in the national economy and national security, and open a dialogue on possible affects and resolutions.  

Speakers presented several perspectives on the issues; Professor  Oscar H. Criner presented a view based upon research he performed while on a faculty development leave with AT&T Bell Laboratories; Mr. Jonathan Hall, Deputy Division Chief, Energy Systems Division, NASA Johnson Space Center, presented the view of a hiring manager; Mr. Marc Mundo, CIO BP Energy, presented an industry perspective discussing the kinds of skill persons need to work for BP Energy; Mr. Sam Denard, a professional engineer, presented a personal and community reflection on the environment needed to stimulate students into the study of STEM subjects.

Dean Yu provided an overview of STEM programs offered by the COST and Dr. David Drew gave a summary of the accomplishments of the TSU Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program. Other presenters at the conference were Dr. Nancy Tervalon, Mr. Joseph Flowers, Dr. Marty Bonsangue, and Dr. Carlos Handy who gave short presentations in a panel. Luncheon keynote addresses were provided by Dr. Kumar Krishen, NASA Senior Scientist, and Mr. Frasier Wilson, Vise President of the Shell Oil Foundation.

The STEM Awareness Forum is the first of a series of conferences being held by the College to drill-down into the issues of the shortage of STEM students at TSU. The next conference will be a two day conference to be held in the fall with a formal call-for-papers, presentations, and panels. The announcement will be made in May.  

Oscar Criner 

March 28, 2011