Serve The Country With A Career In STEM

Did you know that four billion people on the planet use a mobile phone, while only 3.5 billion people own a toothbrush? Technology is shaping the world we live in. People thousands of miles away from each other are connected through technology, driverless cars are being tested, and NASA is planning a Mars landing in the next 20 years. The future is here, and it requires fluency in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Today is National STEM Day — a day to encourage young people to identify and pursue their passions in science, technology, engineering, and math. America must provide students with every opportunity to learn the skills they need to succeed in a globally competitive workforce, while serving our communities in the process.

In the United States, it is projected that nearly 2.4 million STEM jobs will go unfilled in 2018. So how do we get the next generation interested in STEM?

It starts in the classroom.

AmeriCorps members are already working to increase students’ interest in STEM careers with their STEM AmeriCorps initiative. Many AmeriCorps members provide STEM education as classroom teachers through programs like Teach for America and other after school and summer programs.

Check out what United Way of Saginaw County’s STEM AmeriCorps program does for the students in their community.

FIRST AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), is a nationwide robotics program that engages one million kids annually with AmeriCorps VISTA members teaching students how to create new technology. Members work in underserved communities providing students with hands-on engineering activities, like building LEGO-based robots, while having fun — the first step on a pathway to a fulfilling career.

If you already have a STEM background and are interested in serving the nation, there are jobs within military, national, and public service sectors that need to be filled now.

The Department of Defense (DoD) is the largest employer of scientists and engineers in the nation. DoD is working to attract, inspire, and develop exceptional STEM talent to sustain its technological edge both in the military and in civilian roles. With so many programs offered by the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and DoD agencies, your next job could be serving the country with the Department of Defense.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Shannon, a marine science technician with the Coast Guard Pacific Strike Team, takes a water sample near a damaged tank at an oil refinery in Sewaren, N.J. (DoD photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jaclyn Young, U.S. Coast Guard/Released)

Besides serving in the DoD, the federal government is working to actively recruit and hire the STEM talent needed to ensure our government’s health, security, and innovation. Many of the brightest employees in critical fields like cybersecurity, science, technology, engineering, and math are choosing other employers over the federal government due to differences in benefits, pay, and the length of time to hire.

Young people bring energy, creativity, and fresh perspectives from other sectors that can help solve America’s challenges. The government recognizes this. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) last month announced a new initiative related to STEM and the federal workforce and has begun to provide an expedited hiring process for some STEM positions.

As the Commission ramps up to deliver recommendations to the American people, Congress, and the President, please share your ideas with us on how to inspire the next generation to serve in STEM related careers in the military, civil service, and national service.

Do you already serve your local community using innovative STEM skills? We would love to hear how! Share your experience with us in the comments or on our website at www.inspire2serve.gov.