Houston ranked fourth in top places for STEM graduates
The Houston metro area ranked fourth in a new listing of the nation’s top places for graduates working in fields related to science, technology, engineering and math.
NerdWallet, the financial literacy website that published the study, calculated the rankings for multiple metro areas by using the annual mean wage for STEM occupations and STEM occupations as a percentage of all jobs in a city.
NerdWallet also noted the University of Houston STEM Center as a factor in the ranking. NerdWallet indicated the center “helps attract and retain students in STEM careers, both locally and nationally.”
“We’re deeply honored by the recognition,” said Bonnie J. Dunbar, director of the UH STEM Center and the University’s aerospace engineering program. “It is our intent to try to meet the challenge of increasing the number of engineers and scientists in this nation.”
But despite high pay and an increasing demand for people with STEM skills, there aren’t enough to meet the demand, according to a national report. The 2012 report from the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology identified one reason: most students who enter college intending to major in a STEM field end up dropping out. Dunbar, a former member of the U.S. astronaut corps, said that’s one place the UH STEM Center can make a difference.
“STEM is a national imperative reflected by the majority of science and engineering careers,” Dunbar said. “The supply is far short of the demand. We need a fully engaged and nationally populated STEM workforce in the 21st century in order to prosper, to stay healthy and to compete in the global economy.”
Earlier this spring, the STEM center received a $1.5 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to redesign introductory courses in chemistry, biology, physics and math. The goal is to impact instructional practices and activities including providing active-learning and inquiry-based experiences to students, restructuring the curriculum for STEM degrees, measuring the effectiveness of student learning and incorporating evidence-based teaching practices.