STEM conference brings hundreds of teachers and business representatives

The Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance held a STEM conference Thursday to a sold out group at Central Michigan University.

STEM stands for Science Technology Engineering and Math. More than 700 people attended the conference.

Brian Kelly is with U.S. News and World Report and was the keynote speaker.

He said STEM careers are more than rigorous math and science study.

“You gotta learn your math, But there’s gotta be things that go beyond that rigor that. Obviously do engage some of the soft skills,” Kelly said, “Things like collaboration, curiosity, perseverance. These are the traits we know are coming up as really important for the future of a really well-rounded worker and a well-rounded person.”

Kelly said it’s important to teach kids early that STEM learning can be fun.

During the conference researchers evaluated findings about how professionals are doing in the areas of education and career placement.

Researchers evaluated ‘findings’ about how professionals are doing in the areas of education and career placement.

Peter Hutchinson is part of the research team with the organization Accenture.

He said students are an important part of a network of students, leaders and teachers. He calls this network the STEM Pipeline.

“That pipeline needs to be powered by career and college-ready students. The students that come out of our education system need to have those skills and capabilities that are going to be necessary to fill those STEM occupations,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson said employer-applicant communication is another area of STEM that needs to improve . One example he gave was that many employers use different terminology in job listings and, he said, they need to have a common language to function better.

Officials said STEM education is strong in Michigan, but still has room for improvement.

Some of the findings:
27 percent of companies do not post jobs online.
97 percent of all STEM jobs require foundational math skills, with most requiring proficiencies by grade 7.
It is difficult to get a clear picture of the region’s talent needs because of a lack of transparency around current and future demand.
Approximately 36 percent of Michigan high school students entering college require math remediation.

STEM Impact Initiative Summary