On this first day of March, may I be the first to tell you that this is STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education month. I have a personal passion for these subjects because they are so important to General Motors, our industry and the health of our nation.
You may not be aware that the percentage of students pursuing degrees in STEM-related fields is decreasing dramatically. We are losing nearly half of the students that begin their collegiate career in a STEM-related major to non-STEM disciplines after their freshman or sophomore years. The World Economic Forum ranks the United States 52nd in the quality of mathematics and science education, and 5th (and declining) in overall global competitiveness**. I believe that our country is experiencing a systemic issue regarding the approach we take and significance we place on STEM education.
We need to raise the level and engage all students, at a young age, in math and science and show them real-world applications to what they are learning through their classwork. While we certainly want to foster students that have a natural understanding or tenacity for these subjects; cherry-picking from the top students is not going to solve this issue. All students should deserve the opportunity to learn these vital disciplines.
This is a huge issue for the future of GM and all auto manufacturers. GM can only progress as a company if we continue to feed a pipeline of innovative, tech-savvy, globally-focused young thinkers to our product development teams. There has never been a more important time for leaders in science, technology, engineering and math to put a stake in developing the next generation of talent.
As the champion for GM’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics outreach programing, we can say that we are fighting the good fight through our K-12 and collegiate STEM partnerships listed with links here:
Primary and Secondary School Programming
- A World in Motion
- US FIRST & FIRST Robotics
- F1 in Schools Challenge
- Camp Infinity for girls (run by the Michigan Council of Women in Technology)
- Network of Excellence (United Way Partnership in Southeastern Michigan)
- PACE (Partners for the Advancement of Collaborative Engineering Education)
- Buick Achiever’s Scholarship
We need to continue to provide the leadership in this area, which is why I am encouraging my team to continue to push for new and greater opportunities to ignite the minds of students and help them find passion in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. My fondest wish for STEM Month this year is that it helps us focus young minds in these areas that will surely determine our future success.
GM Fastlane welcomes you to check back as we dive further into some of our great student STEM-related programming efforts and continue to make a difference in STEM education.
**World Economic Forum (2011). The Global Competitiveness Report 2010-2011. http://reports.weforum.org/global-competitiveness-2011-2012/.
John Calabrese was named vice president, global vehicle engineering in 2011. He is responsible for the engineering of General Motors vehicles around the world. Previously, Calabrese was executive director and global functional leader for body, exterior, dimensional, interior, safety, heating/ventilating/air conditioning and powertrain cooling engineering, in addition to operations at the Toluca, Mexico Regional Engineering Center.