STEM 101

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We keep hearing about STEM classes and careers being the next big thing—but why?

It’s true: STEM is in the news a lot. Employment in science, technology, engineering and math careers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, was projected to grow to more than 9 million between 2012 and 2022. But what is this all about?

Key Club magazine decided to get some answers. Jose A. “Tony” Castillo, chief of the education division of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command, answered some of our questions about the importance of STEM. Here’s what he told us.

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Tony Castillo

Why should I consider a STEM class in high school?
High school provides the perfect opportunity for students to begin seriously considering their futures and their career choices. Taking classes in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math allows students to experience and obtain skills in critical fields. STEM fields help students improve their problem- solving skills and teach them how to think critically when gathering and evaluating information.

What can I do if my school doesn’t offer any STEM-specific classes?
Try to find STEM-related clubs in your school or around your community. Another alternative would be the use of the Army’s free, online tutorial program, March2Success.com. March2Success offers a STEM hub with various STEM-related practice tests in areas like nursing, technology, pre-engineering, math and social sciences. Additionally, the March2Success website can help you with your academic needs and to prepare for the ACT and SAT with access to seven free practice tests for each.

What types of jobs would be available to me if I focus on a STEM career?
While exposure to the STEM fields helps with specific careers in areas such as applications software developers, industrial/civil/electrical engineers, computer programmers, market research analysts, architecture, statisticians, dietitians and nutritionists, and many more, the critical thinking skills that students develop while learning and doing in the STEM fields prepares them for careers in other areas such as aerospace engineers, agricultural engineers, astronomers, teachers, geneticists, geoscientists and so much more.

Do you think having STEM classes on my transcript will help me to get into college?
High school STEM classes can certainly have a positive impact on university applications as it shows initiative that students are ready to accept challenges regarding their education. STEM classes in high school can also improve students’ abilities to have a wider variety of career choices if they decide to join the military, as the military does offer many STEM related career options.

If technology is changing so quickly, are there going to be jobs we don’t even know about when I graduate from college?
The future job market can certainly grow with the advances being made with current technology. STEM careers will likely increase over the next decade as more and more companies see an increase in this area. Even schools are utilizing STEM with their upgraded online course delivery methods along with increased hands-on learning experiences with classroom delivery. Additionally, with more and more students interested in taking STEM courses in high school, future graduates will employ better with deeper critical-thinking skills, which could lead to more high-level jobs that are not even created at this time. Examples of STEM career jobs offered by the Army include Satellite Communication Systems Operator and Cyber Operations Specialist.

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