White House Computer Science Symposium Recognizes Pennsylvania STEM Programs

The United States government's chief technology officer recognized Pennsylvania’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs at a recent White House event to champion STEM education in the United States.

CTO Megan Smith said Oct. 28 during the White House’s Symposium on State Implementation of Computer Science for All that Pennsylvania’s commitment to STEM and computer science education is accelerating opportunities for the commonwealth’s students and families.

The symposium highlighted Pittsburgh’s STEM Ecosystem for transforming its community through STEM and maker education. Smith also recognized the achievements of Gov. Tom Wolf, who has championed STEM education and has made clear his goal of increasing by 10,000 the number of students enrolled in STEM-specific majors at state universities by 2020.

Wolf also hosts the Governor’s PA Stem Competition each year to highlight the importance of STEM education. The themed event is open to all Pennsylvania students in grades 9 to 12 to showcase their STEM skills and expertise.

Working with the legislature, the governor has also secured historic increases in his first two years:

  • $415 million in basic education funding;
  • $60 million for early childhood education;
  • $50 million in special education funding;
  • $14.6 million for early intervention;
  • $81.4 million for PASSHE and state-related schools; and
  • $16.4 million for community colleges.

“Pennsylvania is honored to receive recognition for its efforts to increase access to resources and education in the sciences for all students,” said Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera in a statement. “Under the leadership of Governor Wolf and the direction of the STEM experts we work with in the department, in schools and in the field, we are providing a unique opportunity to our students — the change to leave the classroom prepared to enter a high-quality, high-value career.”

Some estimates show that nearly 70 percent of jobs available in the future will require a computer science skill set, and STEM education programs have been called the key to this country’s economic future. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupations available in STEM fields will grow by 18.7 percent between 2010 and 2020.

About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at [email protected].