OK EPSCoR Outreach Cultivates a Stronger & More Diverse STEM Workforce

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the science and engineering workforce is projected to grow faster than any other sector in the coming years.  
“This growth rate provides an opportunity, as well as an obligation, to draw on new sources of talent to make the S&E workforce as robust and dynamic as possible,” observed The National Academies’ 2011 Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation Report.  
But we are starting at a deficit:  Women, representing 51 percent of the U.S. population, remain underrepresented in engineering (19 percent), computer sciences (18 percent), physics (19 percent), and math (43 percent) fields, according to the most recent National Science Foundation Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering Report.   African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans,  as a group, make up 28 percent of the U.S. population, but hold only 12 percent of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs according to the report.
Oklahoma NSF EPSCoR is cultivating a stronger and more diverse STEM workforce pool through a portfolio of outreach initiatives designed to increase participation of women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields. The programs reach all points of the STEM pipeline:  elementary school students to grad students, and K-12 teachers to college faculty, with special emphasis on Native Americans, African Americans and women.
About the Programs:
Oklahoma NSF EPSCoR recently provided funding to establish two new “first-of-their--kind” science programs for Native American high school and college students in rural Oklahoma.  The Environmental Science and Math Pathway Program at CareerTech’s Pontotoc Technology Center (PTC) in Ada is scheduled to launch in August 2014.  It is the first STEM education program offered by PTC.  High school students from nine school districts in six southern Oklahoma counties with high Native American populations will have access to the in-depth, two-year course.  At the university level, undergraduate students at College of the Muscogee Nation (CMN) now have access to the college’s first science course and laboratory; a CMN Native American science instructor, hired through EPSCoR funding, leads students in lab and field research experiences throughout the year.
Other outreach programs include summer research experiences for Tribal College and HBCU students; hands-on science kits and STEM mentoring for 12,000 Girl Scouts; authentic research experiences for rural-area/high-minority school teachers; interactive women in science conferences for secondary students; and more.  
For details about OK EPSCoR's complete portfolio of STEM initiatives, browse the education menus at www.okepscor.org or email the outreach coordinator at gmiller@okepscor.org.
Pictured/above:  A camper at the Jones Academy Boarding School's summer STEM camp for Native American students participates in one of the many hands-on science sessions held during the week-long camp that was sponsored by Oklahoma EPSCoR.