THE BEST COLLEGES FOR STEM DEGREES
Among a growing need for professionals trained in advanced fields like cybersecurity and technology, experts agree that STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education is necessary — not only as a cornerstone of national security, but also to sustain the country’s economy. In fact, President Trump recently signed two bills to promote and recruit more women into thee STEM fields, while back in 2012, President Obama made increasing the number of college graduates in STEM fields by one million in one decade a Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) goal. Obama chartered the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) to help meet this goal.
The idea behind this lofty goal put forth by the former President was that it would increase job opportunities for young Americans in fields that were and are increasingly crucial to the strengthening of the national economy. At the time of its inception, this ambitious goal was intended to produce qualified professionals for STEM jobs, which were growing 1.7 million times faster than non-STEM occupations between 2008 and 2018.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
This private university was ranked No. 1 by U.S. News & World Report for Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs, though the school also offers doctorates in the field. In addition, MIT’s faculty boasts several Fulbright Scholars and Nobel Prize winners.
MIT offers a year-round academic program through the MIT Office of Engineering Outreach Programs for middle school students who are interested in math and science and want to get ahead in these areas. Through the STEM Summer Institute, middle school students are engaged for five weeks of lectures, projects, and experiments taught by MIT undergraduates. Seventh- through 12th-graders may now also join MIT’s newest free STEM initiative, Saturday Engineering Enrichment and Discovery (SEED) Academy. Participants in all programs learn college-level material.
Tuskegee University is a historically black institution of higher education located in Alabama that enrolls more than 3,100 students. It is a noted school for minorities who plan to pursue an education in a STEM field. The university is a top producer of the nation’s black veterinarians, with Tuskegee alumni making up 75% of all black veterinarians in the U.S. The school also produces the most black aerospace science engineers in the nation and is the largest producer of black graduates with bachelor’s degrees in math, science, and engineering in Alabama.
Tuskegee is also a part of the Math and Science Partnership with several other universities, community colleges, school districts, and STEM centers. This partnership was formed to help Alabama’s middle school students achieve success in science.
Harvey Mudd College
This small, private, liberal arts institution located in Claremont, California, is well known for engineering, science, and mathematics. U.S. News & World Report ranks Harvey Mudd College No. 2 for the Best Undergraduate Engineering Program.
Mudd takes a liberal arts approach to STEM by including a common core curriculum that provides a solid foundation in math and science. Students aren’t required to select a major until the end of their sophomore year, and the school offers a choice of nine STEM-based majors.
Though the school enrolls just around 800 students, Mudd has made significant efforts to attract women into STEM fields to increase diversity. These efforts were spearheaded by the school’s president Maria Klawe, who saw a distinct need for more women in computer science. Since Klawe began her tenure at Harvey Mudd, there has been an increase in female computer science graduates.
Texas A&M University
Texas A&M University in College Station enrolls more than 50,000 students and ranks first in the state for student retention and graduation rates, both overall and for minorities. The university is also a leader in STEM education, setting a strategic goal in 2010 to increase graduation rates among STEM students.
The purpose of the 25 by 25 initiative is to increase access for qualified students to pursue engineering education. The goal is for A&M to enroll 25,000 engineering students by 2025 across its College Station, Galveston, Qatar, and McAllen campuses, as well as in its statewide engineering academies. This initiative aims to address a growing demand in Texas (and the nation) for more engineers. The plan to carry out the initiative includes growing enrollments at the undergraduate and graduate levels, improving retention of engineering students, and expanding partnerships with community colleges to increase the number of transfer students.
University of Connecticut
UConn is Connecticut’s flagship public university and enrolls more than 30,000 students. Several of the school’s engineering programs are top-ranked by U.S. News and World Report, including UConn’s graduate programs in materials science and engineering, recently ranked among the top 25 in the nation.
In 2013, it was announced that the university would receive a $1.5 billion investment to support campus expansion and generate jobs. The purpose of the proposal, known as Next Generation Connecticut, is to expand educational opportunities, research, and innovation in STEM disciplines at UConn for the next 10 years.
Goals of the ten-year plan include hiring 200 new STEM faculty; building STEM facilities to house materials for science, physics, biology, engineering, cognitive science, genomics, and related disciplines; constructing new STEM teaching laboratories; and creating a premier STEM honors program. Additionally, the proposal aims to expand the School of Engineering by increasing enrollment by 70% overall and growing the total number of STEM graduates by 47%.
Kapiolani Community College
The STEM Program at Kapiolani Community College (KCC) aims to improve quality of education in STEM fields through various outreach programs, one being the Summer Bridge Program. The program brings together high school students, college students as peer mentors, and college faculty to help students prepare for the rigors of college math and science. Program participants engage daily in a math prep class as well as an hour allotted for collaborative study. Upon completion of the program, participants may be eligible for a STEM research internship or a peer mentorship.
KCC, which enrolls more than 7,100 students each year in its for-credit programs and about 25,000 students in its not-for-credit programs, is a recipient of the National Science Foundation’s S-STEM grant, which funds scholarships to select students pursuing STEM careers. KCC’s STEM Program offers several student scholarships, as well.