The increased integration of technology in our lives and greater need for individuals in the workforce who are able to take on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics)-related jobs is well documented. The Department of Defense (DoD) formalized its strategic activities around STEM education with the foundation with Defense STEM Education Consortium (DSEC) in 2019 to cultivate a diverse and sustainable STEM talent pool ready to serve the nation and evolve the DoD’s competitive edge.  There have likewise been a number of STEM initiatives in the US at the national, state, and local levels. Despite the attention to and the growth seen in some STEM areas, however, as of 2020 only about 7% of the 153-million member US workforce worked in STEM fields. 
To explore some of the persistent issues impacting STEM education and career choices, the Systems Engineering Research Center (SERC) has launched new research that will help to shape the STEM pipeline in the United States. Led by SERC/AIRC (Acquisition Innovation Research Center) Fellows Dr. Ruth David and Mr. Jeff Wilcox, this research task will focus on developing collaborative DoD-industry activities that will: create a technical workforce able to receive the security clearance needed to meet defense missions; support educational opportunities for defense sector personnel in both government and industry; and increase educational opportunities for veterans and military dependents.
Dr. Dinesh Verma, Executive Director of the SERC and AIRC, explained, “As we look into the future, our dependence on kids opting for academic preparation and careers in STEM becomes more and more important to us given the nature of jobs in the future and our national security needs. It is a critical endeavor for us as a nation to ensure more of our kids have the option and are comfortable pursuing a STEM major and STEM-oriented career.”
To address this, the team will focus on activities based on metrics and education best practices to ensure maximum effectiveness. The team will look at existing incentives and propose new incentives for the government and defense industrial base to participate in STEM education and outreach, and workforce development opportunities. The team will also explore how collaborative STEM education and outreach activities support long-term employee retention or occupational retraining, and ways to measure the success of the proposed initiatives.
The goal for this research is to create a small number of high-impact, realizable recommendations that are easy to implement and actually used by the DoD and the DIB. In particular, the team hopes to identify ways in which collaboration allows the DoD and DIB to deliver impacts that each may not be able to achieve separately.
To learn more about this task, click HERE.
 Best. 2021. “Department of Defense STEM Education and Outreach.” Building Engineering & Science Talent (BEST) website. Accessed 6 October 2021. Available at: https://www.bestworkforce.org/what-we-do
 US Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2021. “Data: Employment in STEM Occupations”. Accessed 4 Oct 2021. Available at: https://www.bls.gov/emp/tables/stem-employment.htm