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Education today/Steve Patchin

Michigan STEM Partnership seeks collaboration to produce prosperity

November 22, 2011
The Daily Mining Gazette

According to a U.S. Department of Education survey, in the next 10 years demand for scientists and engineers is expected to increase four times the rate of other occupations. In news report after news report corporations cite the rising need for a workforce skilled in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to fuel their growth. This intellectual pool of STEM professionals will likely be the major draw of corporate expansion in the future, hence higher employment and wages will be the reward to those selected areas.

Michigan's population is 9,931,235, ranking it eighth largest in the country. High-Technology businesses are only 7.25 percent of all businesses, ranking Michigan 30th of all states in this category. As of 2007, expenditures in research and development as percentage of the States Gross Domestic Product was 4.58 percent, ranking Michigan sixth in the nation. Academic patents awarded per 1,000 science and engineering doctorate holders in academia in 2006 was 12.8, ranking Michigan ninth in the country. As of 2007, 12.4 students of every 1,000 individuals ages 25-34 in Michigan were graduate students in the fields of science and engineering, ranking Michigan 21st amongst states.

In K-12 education Michigan students ranking against other states were as follows: fourth grade mathematics -?29th (2007), fourth grade science -20th (2005), eighth grade mathematics - 35th (2007), eighth grade science - 12th (2005), and the share of public schools students taking advanced placement exams in 2008 was 20.2 percent, ranking Michigan at 29th.

The Michigan STEM Partnership has been created to address the urgent need to increase the academic performance and career preparation of our young students in STEM.

"The Michigan STEM Partnership is a statewide collaboration of committed leaders from PK-20 education as well as business and industry, philanthropy, economic development, government, military, and other organizations dedicated to elevating STEM literacy and proficiencies in a way that increases Michigan's economic strength to retain and attract desirable jobs."

This collaborative effort is being driven by five regional communities, or Hubs, in the state. Four areas divide up Lower Michigan: St. Clair Hub, Bay Hub, Lake Michigan Hub, and the Straits Hub. The final regional grouping is the Superior Hub consisting of all the Upper Peninsula.

The four goals of the Michigan STEM Partnership are: "develop and execute a statewide plan of action to increase interest and achievement in STEM, engage business and industry in addressing the challenge, create an asset map of the existing STEM programs and activities to identify opportunities and gaps, and increase the number of students who graduate from high school, career- or college-ready without remediation."

You can learn more about the program and share your STEM assets at their website at

Spearheaded by the K-12 Regional Math and Science Centers throughout Michigan, the Michigan STEM Partnership mission is not to create new programs, but to craft synergies between existing math and science programming to support educational efforts in our schools. As illustrated by the numbers, Michigan has some successes which need to be used to address its challenges in developing our future workforce. If we support the Michigan STEM Partnership by mobilizing our STEM assets, we will all reap the return of prosperity to our communities. Successful education of our youth in STEM will be our most valuable asset.

Editor's note: Steve Patchin is the director of the Center for Pre-College Outreach at Michigan Technological University.



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