I believe every young person who has an innate desire to explore, reconfigure, and build has the aptitude for a challenging yet rewarding career in science, technology, math or engineering (STEM). We need every innovative young mind we can find to engage in STEM fields to help us solve some of the world's most complex challenges, like finding a cure for cancer and providing clean water to families in developing countries.
In fact, we need approximately one million more STEM professionals than the U.S. will produce at the current rate over the next decade, if America wants to retain its historical ranking in science and technology. The White House predicts the U.S. will need to increase the number of students who receive undergraduate STEM degrees by about one-third annually over current rates in order to fulfill this goal.
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Unfortunately, our kids are not excelling in science and math. American students rank 23rd in science and 31st in math when compared to students in 65 top industrial countries, according to the Program for International Student Assessment. Some may argue that this is a STEM education crisis. I believe it's a cultural issue that's impeding kids from exploring STEM careers and ultimately allowing the U.S. to develop a strong generation of innovative problem-solvers.