Like many states throughout the country, the majority of Nevada’s fastest-growing job fields require STEM-prepared graduates. The obvious solution for higher ed is to expand academic programs in the sciences and engineering to meet the need. But it’s not that simple.
Many students with a passion and aptitude for STEM-related career paths face hurdles early on in their college careers – from struggles with math concepts to a lack of mentors – that can prevent their STEM dreams from gaining steam.
At UNLV, we’re engaged in two different NSF-supported projects that bridge math skills and mentorship gaps to make STEM career paths more accessible and achievable for our students. I invite you to read more about these innovative programs, one that incorporates elements of online and video games into classroom learning and another that combines scholarships with mentorship and career-focused “soft skills” building to increase retention.
As higher education leaders, we’re all focused, and rightly so, on delivering high-demand degree programs for the 21st century economy. As we do this, it’s important that we concurrently build support mechanisms to ensure that any student with a passion for STEM, regardless of their circumstance, has the opportunity to succeed.
Keith E. Whitfield, Ph.D.