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Posted On:
February 4, 2016
at 7:10 pm



Students Can Own Their Future


So much to consider! Employment in occupations related to STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) is projected to grow to more than 9 million between 2012 and 2022, an increase of about 1 million jobs over 2012 employment levels.1 Did that catch your attention?   Here’s more. U.S. businesses voice concerns over availability of STEM workers. More? Over the past 10 years, growth in STEM jobs was three times as fast as growth in non-STEM jobs. STEM workers are less likely to experience joblessness; STEM workers play a key role in the sustained growth and stability of the U.S. economy, and are a critical component to helping the U.S. win the future. 2


Question is how to BE one of those STEM employees. The Metropolitan Education Commission (MEC), a partner of The AZ SciTech Festival for three years now, had real-world answers in one fun, unintimidating, information-filled get up close and personal jam-packed symposium on February 3rd   at the University of Arizona (UA) Student Union Ballroom from 9:00 am – 12:30 pm, aptly named the KEY TO EMPLOYMENT SYMPOSIUM. And they knew how to do this right – this is the 19th year the MEC has put together this Symposium that continues to grow in students attending and potential employers.


The Symposium, the first of its nature in the state, focused totally on high school students from all over Pima County; public high schools, magnet, charter schools, parochial schools and home-schooled, students from so many educational backgrounds came together with one thing in common – a curiosity about employment in STEM. Here they talked with one another and talked with representatives from a wide spectrum of high tech corporations, academia and the military – basically anyone using high technology as the ‘tools of their trade”.


Dr. June Webb-Vignery, MEC Executive Director, the driving force and organizer of the Symposium explained, “…students must know what is needed for a career in a particular field involving STEM. They come to the Symposium to find out what courses they need to take in high school and college to get into that particular career. The Symposium offers a unique, well-rounded experience so the students themselves can ‘connect all the dots’ to a pathway in a career that is important and interesting to them.”


Corporations like IBM (a stalwart supporter of the Symposium), Bombardier Aerospace, Tucson Electric Power, the Arizona TeleMedicine Program, UA College of Engineering Workshop, were examples of the diverse nature of STEM those students could talk with and obtain those important ‘dots’ to connect.


And what are those ‘dots’ that need connecting? STEM fields are closely related and build on each other. For example, math provides the foundation for physics—and physics, in turn, for engineering. Engineers apply their knowledge of physics to make high-tech devices that test theories in physics. Advances in physics lead to advances in engineering and technology.


Too often the only time a student spends on a college campus is to attend a football game. With the Symposium, students were given tours of the UA campus, and that alone got kids thinking about what their future could be – that they, too, could attend a university; start down a path to a good education, a good job and a good future; and be part of the STEM future… it could impact lives.


STEM workers drive our nation’s innovation and competitiveness by generating new ideas, new companies and new industries. The jobs of tomorrow will be in STEM… the future of the economy will be in STEM. WHERE WILL YOUR FUTURE BE?


1 From the Bureau of Labor Statistics March 2014 report

2 From the U.S. Department of Commerce


The MEC Keys To Employment Symposium, a leader to get our kids thinking about where the future jobs will be has also been instrumental in showing unprecedented success when the forces of the community are brought together. It has brought together the three usual entities, high-tech businesses, educational organizations and high school students; but one more entity that is truly critical has been forward-thinking and supportive and not always a part of the mix – politicians. To be specific, the Pima County Attorney, Barbara LaWall is leading by example and showing what can be achieved when everyone comes together for the good of the students and the community. LaWall, completely supportive of MEC and the Symposium, has commented that their support is common sense prevention – putting efforts into youths from the beginning is drop-out rate prevention and ultimately is crime prevention.  

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