Friends in High Places Bring STEM Within Reach

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The nation’s STEM deficit is no secret. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the deficit of qualified applicants for computer science-related jobs alone will reach more than one million people by 2020. We’re attempting to disrupt that equation at Georgia Tech's College of Computing by exposing the future to the creative side of computing. We believe that learning to express creativity through computing is an effective way to inspire kids to choose STEM careers.

We know that if children don’t choose the right courses in middle school, they won’t be eligible to take Advanced Placement classes in high school, and will be unlikely to gain admission into top computing programs at America’s universities. We aim to inspire them well before preteen years by emboldening K-12 schools with activities and after-school programs. We are preparing them to be a part of a labor pool that boasts $45,000 low-end starting salaries. In this way we are empowering the future to change their communities and move our nation forward.

It would be challenging to do this without the generous support of our corporate partners. CareerBuilder, for example, began partnering with us in April 2015 by sponsoring a middle school robotic soccer tournament. Their support extended beyond dollars and cents; employees volunteered to staff the event, coach teams, and made the tournament exciting for all participants. The tournament’s success is a testament to what is possible through the power of corporate partnerships.

We partnered with CareerBuilder again to host a robotic storytelling competition on Saturday, Dec. 5. Teams of elementary students from Atlanta Public Schools matched wits by creating LegoBots for storytelling, then competed to be declared champions with an impressive trophy. CareerBuilder once again generously supported the event financially and with employee volunteers.

For all of this and more, I’m grateful to our corporate partners for their unwavering support. Together we can move the needle on STEM careers and the future possibilities for our children.

Cedric Stallworth is the assistant dean for Outreach, Enrollment, and Community at the College of Computing at Georgia Tech.