NOAA: Cultivating the Next Generation of STEM Workers, One Student at a Time

Published: August 01, 2011

July 26, 2011

You’ve probably heard the term in the news of late. “STEM jobs” in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, are the new “It” jobs.

A report from Commerce’s Economics and Statistics Administration discussed recently in this blog had good news for present and future STEM workers. Among its key findings, the report notes that in the past 10 years:

    Growth in STEM jobs was three times greater than that of non-STEM jobs;
    STEM workers earn 26 percent more than their non-STEM counterparts; and
    Job growth in these fields will continue to grow at a faster rate than other jobs. 

As the report confirms, STEM workers are driving our nation’s innovation and competitiveness and helping America “win the future” with new ideas, new businesses and new industries.

Enter Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

NOAA’s mission—to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans and coasts, to share that knowledge and to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources—is central to many of today’s greatest challenges. 

Why? Climate change, extreme weather, declining biodiversity, and threatened natural resources all convey a common message: Now, more than ever, human health, prosperity and well-being depend upon the health and resilience of both natural and social ecosystems and resources.

That means we need skilled hands and inspired minds to help society prepare for and respond to weather-related events, to sustain healthy and productive ecosystems and to ensure resilient coastal communities and economies.

Growth of STEM starts with America’s students

One of the two primary goals of NOAA’s Office of Education is to develop a future workforce that reflects the diversity of our nation, one skilled in STEM and other disciplines critical to the agency’s mission and the nation’s well-being.

That’s why we’re spreading the word about NOAA scholarships for college students aimed at helping them obtain degrees in many STEM fields. NOAA offers, many programs that focus on undergraduates, while others target those pursuing graduate degrees. Besides significant financial support, these programs provide outstanding opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience in cutting-edge analysis and research, plus mentoring by top-flight NOAA scientists and managers. (Learn more about our scholarship programs at http://www.oesd.noaa.gov/noaa_student_opps.html.)

The future of STEM is coming to Silver Spring

In early June, more than 100 students—the newest NOAA scholarship recipients—completed an intensive orientation week at NOAA’s Silver Spring, Md., campus, including field trips to visit various NOAA laboratories and sites in the Washington, D.C. metro area. From August 2-4, 150 scholars will present summaries of their research projects—in oral and poster format—in Silver Spring. If you want to see what the future of STEM looks like, stop by and talk with our students! (To learn more about how to attend this event, contact Chantell Haskins at chantell.haskins@noaa.gov.)

NOAA education also offers other programs that foster a first-class future STEM workforce and aim to increase America’s environmental literacy. We invite you to learn more about us at www.education.noaa.gov and epp.noaa.gov