On Thursday, October 18th, I had the pleasure of attending the 9th Annual statewide STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Summit, held at Gillette Stadium. Like many attendees, I have attended several STEM Summits, and I think I can speak for many when I say they get better (and bigger!) each year.
(Secretary Reville offering remarks at the 2012 STEM Summit. Photo Credit: UMass Donahue)
This year’s event entitled, Game Plan: Aligning Priorities and Bridging Communities, placed a greater emphasis on the connection between STEM and workforce development, as we are increasingly recognizing a direct connection between growth in the STEM sectors and our economic well-being here in the Commonwealth. The event began with a morning plenary session, featuring speakers including Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, who serves as the Chair of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council and has been an extraordinary leader on STEM issues; New England Patriots’ owner Bob Kraft and Rose Kirk, President of the Verizon Foundation. Secretary Reville spoke as part of the morning session, alongside Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Joanne Goldstein. An excerpt from his remarks is included below. If you attended year year’s Summit, please feel free to leave a comment about your experience. And we hope to see you at the 10th Annual STEM Summit next Fall!
Secretary Reville’s Remarks at the STEM Summit, October 18, 2012:
- In years past you’ve heard me talk about achievement
gaps, opportunity gaps and inspiration gaps we have in STEM
education. What I would like to
focus on today is what’s at stake if we don’t find a way to come together
and more rapidly close those gaps for our students.
- We have a knowledge-based economy here in the
Commonwealth. Our natural resource isn’t coal or corn – it is
brainpower. The strength of our economy and its continued growth
depends on a highly educated and well-skilled workforce.
- In particular, our economy is heavily reliant on
science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM-related fields –
biosciences, precision manufacturing, information technology and others –
these are the industries we need to support and attract to the
Commonwealth. We have double the national average of STEM jobs in
Massachusetts. In order to meet the demands of businesses growing and
locating here, we need to cultivate both a highly-educated and passionate
generation of students engaged in and pursuing STEM fields. Such an
undertaking requires coordination at every level, from every stakeholder.
- Our Administration, under the leadership of the Governor Patrick, and Lieutenant Governor Murray, who has been spearheading our STEM efforts, is deeply committed to this work.
year’s state budget included $1.5 million in funding to increase the number of
students in programs that support careers in the STEM field, increase the
number of qualified STEM teachers, and improve STEM offerings in schools across
the state; and $2 million dollars in new funding to support AP Math and Science
Initiatives. Through our successful Race to the Top initiative, we have
invested $6 million to support STEM education.
you heard the Lieutenant Governor mention, the Administration recently invested
over $1 billion in capital funding for our state colleges and universities to
advance high-quality instructional, lab and research facility projects
throughout our public higher education system so our students can compete in
the global economy.
recently visited the Marlborough STEM Early College High School where I not
only saw the students being inspired, but the teachers and administrators being
inspired by and learning from one another. The program’s rigorous classes are
cross-curricular, blending math, science, English and history all through the
lens of engineering. Students engage
with innovation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics through
project and problem-based learning, all the while cultivating their critical
thinking, problem solving, communication and collaboration skills and
creativity. This instruction is enhanced
by a dual-enrollment partnership with Framingham State University where
students can take and earn college level credit during their junior and senior
year of high school. Marlborough is an excellent model of innovative education
promoting enthusiasm for a future in STEM.
When you present the material in engaging ways, you are naturally
cultivating a passion for STEM and there’s no need to try to “sell” it as being
more exciting than it is - those kids are genuinely engaged.
- I know that all of you in this room are committed to this work of ensuring our students, our employers our economy and our Commonwealth continues to grow and prosper. I hope you will use your time here today to explore how we can take our efforts to the next level – how we can extend time, increase students’ exposure to STEM fields and maximize hands-on personal experiences with professionals in these sectors to show students that these fields are the future and inspire them to hop on board.
- I want to thank all of you for your efforts and partnership with us thus far and look forward to the work ahead.
- Through our Connecting Activities program and WOW
Initiative, more students are getting a glimpse of the excitement and
opportunity STEM fields have to offer. Increasing exposure to real-world
applications of math, science and technology for our students and giving
them a picture of how those fields impact our ever-changing world is a
critical part of getting them engaged.
- Many of our Innovation Schools – over a dozen now - are orienting themselves around the STEM subjects and taking on this challenge of integrating hands-on and applied learning more fully into the classroom. I have visited a number of schools across the state where students themselves are encouraged to be the scientists. They aren’t just reading about experiments in a textbook, they are in labs and out in the field doing these experiments themselves. That is the type of “inspiration” it takes to peak their interest.
- We as a Commonwealth and a nation are in a period of
economic transformation, and the type of innovation and collaboration I
saw at Marlborough STEM Early College High School is what it is going take
for our education system to keep pace with our changing global
marketplace. Every piece of the
system – early education, k-12, higher education, employers, workforce
development organizations need to come together for this to work.
- I think it’s worth reiterating something I said a
bit earlier – we have twice the national average of STEM jobs here in
Massachusetts. Many of those jobs, what we call middle-skill jobs, are
going unfilled because employers cannot find qualified workers to fill
them. These are good-paying jobs
that require more than a high school degree, but less than a four-year
liberal arts degree, and they are waiting to be filled in communities all over
- Back in January, the Governor described this phenomenon as “skills gap” and put forward a plan give our community colleges additional resources and encourage stronger partnerships to meet that challenge. The Governor awarded community college campuses $4 million in grants a few weeks ago, with the promise of more to come, to help campuses expand their efforts to provide students with relevant workforce training and educational programs. This plan is about strengthening the connections between our secondary schools, public campuses, our employers, and our workforce so that everyone is pulling in the same direction to ensure each and every one of our students has the opportunity to succeed and no job here in Massachusetts is going unfilled.