Have you heard of "Joey Marshmallow?" Two years ago, then-14-year-old inventor Joey Hudy shot to fame when he demonstrated his marshmallow cannon to President Barack Obama at the White House, with the president getting his chance to participate in the marshmallow firing.
Two years later, the young inventor sat with First Lady Michelle Obama during the 2014 State of the Union address, where the president emphasized the importance of developing the next wave of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) innovators like Joey.
While not all students may launch marshmallows in the White House, investments in STEM-related fields could mean big payoffs for your own science-minded kids.
Investing in engineering education now means job prospects for the future.
It’s safe to say that STEM programs are a hot topic. We’ve covered them on our student-focused blog, The Scholarship Coach, a number of times. The coalition 100Kin10 rallies partners to collectively reach the president’s goal to have 100,000 STEM teachers nationwide by 2021. And later this year, the White House will launch its first-ever White House Maker Faire, highlighting more "Joey Marshmallow" inventors and the organizations that are leading the way to support them.
All the talk around STEM means investments in the sciences are happening now – and that means supporting students with engineering scholarships and other science-related experiences is critical.
Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce estimates that by 2018, nearly two-thirds of STEM job openings will be for those with at least a bachelor’s degree. And with this comes high wages: More than half of STEM workers with a bachelor’s degree earn more than the average for workers with other types of bachelor’s degrees. Some engineering fields can even lead to a six-figure salary.
Engineering scholarships help prepare students to contribute to a technology-dependent society.
Not only do the vast majority of STEM jobs require some form of postsecondary education or training, but there’s demand for the skills that come along with that training. Competencies like problem-solving, technology know-how and a solid grounding in math and science carry over to a wide variety of science fields.
Often, pairing these skills with the technologies at a college or university means that your student will have access to resources to keep them competitive for future job prospects. Georgia Tech’s top-ranked College of Engineering, for example, was awarded 1,298 new contracts and grants in 2010 valued at more than $213 million. These hands-on projects, possibly not available outside of a college, can provide invaluable experience to a burgeoning engineer.
In addition to scholarship programs, organizations offer other STEM experiences such as fellowships and competitions – take, for example, the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellow Program and the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search. Businesses also offer a number of real-world experiences in the form of internships, like Boeing’s internships and co-ops, or even Disney, which offers an engineering internship program for a number of different fields.
As colleges pair real-world experiences with education, offering award programs creates even more incentive for students to pursue – and contribute to – an ever-changing technology landscape.
Participating in STEM bolsters the nation’s ability to stay competitive in a rapidly-changing global workforce.
Technology isn’t the only constantly-changing aspect of engineering or other sciences: These fields continue to diversify as we live in an increasingly global society. As a result, the workforce applying for jobs will continue to diversify.
Females in engineering tend to be an underrepresented demographic, but if you if you have a daughter considering a STEM career, she’ll have an increasing number of scholarships to apply for. (The Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship, which supports women in technology, is a good example.) Groups like Change the Equation are also creating and promoting programs that will enable greater access to STEM careers for women and minorities.
As the STEM workforce becomes more and more diverse, so will the awards that help educate that workforce.
Engineering and other science-related scholarships are just the tip of the iceberg. Investments are being made for students of all ages, including supporting more STEM-focused school districts, and creating opportunities to expose and inspire students to STEM careers. Part of that plan means improving postsecondary completion in a STEM program. There’s a need for STEM involvement, and scholarships can play a vital part in supporting our future scientists.