December 10, 2012
The United States produces approximately 74,000 engineers a year, a number that has remained essentially flat for the past two decades. With the impending retirement of the Baby Boomer generation, an anticipated shortage of engineers will affect virtually every aspect of our environment, society and lifestyle. ASHRAE is increasing its efforts in expressing the importance of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education – most notably, in the area of public policy.
To accomplish this, ASHRAE has joined the STEM Education Coalition. The Coalition works to inform federal, state and local policymakers on the critical role that STEM education plays in keeping the U.S. competitive in the global marketplace, as well as in guaranteeing future economic prosperity. The Coalition advocates for policies that will improve STEM education and provide greater access to STEM programs. As members of the Coalition’s Leadership Council, ASHRAE will work with other member organizations to advance the Coalition’s policy aims through direct advocacy and grassroots education efforts.
ASHRAE hopes to unite its grassroots efforts with other organizations of the coalition that have similar goals at the state and local level. For example, ASHRAE encourages policymakers to implement the following recommendations:
• Increase federally funded research to improve teaching and learning of STEM concepts and critical thinking skills.
• Recruit, train and retain qualified STEM teachers through the development of programs recognizing educators who excel in STEM education, and incentives that encourage the best and brightest scientists and engineers to teach.
• Foster partnerships among educational institutions, industry, and non-profit organizations and their members.
• Encourage the adoption of curriculum standards that cultivate high student performance; the development of curricula that foster creativity, experiential problem solving and critical thinking; and the development of assessments aligned with these standards and curricula.
• Create opportunities and incentives for women and minorities to pursue STEM coursework and careers.
ASHRAE also provides resources for its members to reach out to schools and students to promote STEM education. An online resource guide for kindergarten through 12th grade is available at www.ashrae.org/ashraek12. The site includes suggested classroom projects, career videos from the Society and materials for teacher use.