Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release: June 19, 2015
STEM Communities/Regions impacting Oklahoma students
Oklahoma’s students are getting better prepared
for jobs in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics
(STEM) thanks to legislation passed during the 2014 legislative
session. Senate Bill 1181, which became law on August 22, 2014,
put into effect some of the recommendations of Gov. Fallin’s
Science and Technology Council to improve workforce development
by strengthening STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)
education programs in Oklahoma.
The “Oklahoma-A STEM State of Mind" Program establishes
the criteria for designation as a STEM Community and Region. The
process for designation as a STEM Community or Region requires that
state legislators initiate such designation through an application
process. The process is overseen by a subcommittee chosen by the
Governor and overseen by the Coalition for the Advancement of Science
and Mathematics Education in Oklahoma (CASMEO). Final approval and
designation as a STEM Community or Region is then made by the Governor.
Shawnee and Tulsa were the first to be designated STEM Communities
in the state, and eight others are in the process of earning the
designation. The Gordon Cooper Technology Center in Shawnee has
also been designated as a STEM Region being that it serves multiple
communities. When individual school districts organize under the
Act, they’re deemed STEM Communities.
These communities/regions have created partnerships consisting of
educators, industry members, local business owners, Chambers of
Commerce, parents and students focused on STEM education and training.
These partnerships help:
• students understand and appreciate the career possibilities
in STEM fields
• provide students with rigorous curriculums to prepare them
to pursue college degrees in STEM fields
• provide STEM industries with a highly-qualified workforce
Sharp, principal author of SB 1181, commended the work of communities
around the state in helping better prepare students to pursue careers
in STEM fields.
“I applaud the educators, parents, businesses and community
leaders of Shawnee and Tulsa as well as the other cities and school
districts working on becoming STEM Communities or Regions for their
dedication to opening the minds of Oklahoma’s students to
the many career possibilities available in STEM fields,” said
Sharp, R-Shawnee. “This initiative is helping create a skilled
workforce with the knowledge to meet the needs of businesses not
only in Oklahoma but across the nation. I hope more Oklahoma communities
will consider participating in this important education and workforce
The Alliance for Science & Technology Research in America (ASTRA)
has projected by 2018 there will be 81,000 STEM-related Oklahoma
jobs that will need to be filled. However, ASTRA found that less
than 25 percent of Oklahoma students show interest in STEM, which
is below the national average.
Marty Lewis, Gordon Cooper Technology Center Superintendent/CEO,
helped craft the legislation and pointed out that STEM is not just
an issue for common education but for all levels including higher
education and career tech.
“STEM education is truly an economic development issue. Tomorrow’s
workforce is in the classroom today,” said Lewis. “If
we’re successful in motivating more and more students throughout
all levels of education to choose and excel in rigorous STEM classes
then the Shawnee region and the entire state will be more successful
According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, STEM jobs are expected
to increase by more than 21 percent and 80 percent of jobs in the
next decade will require technical skills. The U.S. will have over
one million job openings in STEM-related fields by 2018.
Brig. Gen. Ben Robinson, USAF, with CASMEO said the benefits of
STEM education in the state are far reaching.
“A statewide effort to enhance our STEM education, focused
at the community level, benefits our students, our industries, our
economy and improves the quality of life and opportunity for all
in Oklahoma,” said Robinson.
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