SAIC Launches Program To Support, Inspire STEM Education
Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) has launched a new program "to help inspire, engage and educate students in K-12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education." And to seal its commitment, the company has formed strategic partnerships with two major nonprofits with demonstrated results in STEM education, FIRST and Project Lead the Way (PLTW), and has invested $1 million to sponsor the two organizations.
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a nonprofit dedicated to building interest in STEM-related education via innovative means, hosts technology events, including regional and national robotics competitions, and offers mentor-based programs, all designed to build science and engineering skills and encourage technological imagination and innovation as early as middle school.
PLTW is a program that offers a course of high school science classes designed to prepare students with the concepts, skills, and applications necessary for a future in science, engineering, and technology. With extensive help from strategic corporate and institutional partners in STEM-related industries, the group's three-tiered program presents students with real-world science applications and gives them hands-on experience, elevating the traditional lab science curriculum to a more interactive level. Founded in 1998 to address the shortage of engineering students at the college level, when it served 12 high schools in upstate New York, PLTW's "STEM-prep" program now enrolls more than 300,000 middle- and high-school students in nearly 3,400 schools throughout the United States.
"The number of students entering STEM disciplines is too low to meet future U.S. needs," said Walt Havenstein, CEO of SAIC and board member of FIRST. "Industry can play a critical role in helping address this shortfall. Not only does SAIC rely on a STEM-educated workforce, our customers and our nation do, as well. It is what drives our economy."
SAIC introduced its program with sponsorship donations of $600,000 to FIRST and $400,000 to PLTW. In addition, SAIC is launching a more robust volunteer program to bring its employees' expertise and experience in a broad variety of science and technology disciplines to the educational arena where it can inspire students' interest in STEM and encourage their desire to pursue more immersive education and long term career goals in the sciences.
Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.