Local districts use innovative approaches to STEM education

Engineer Tammy Richards, with SMU's Lyle School of Engineering, talks about the importance of STEM education.

By Conner Hammett

"STEM" has become a hot word in the field of education over the past several years. An acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, STEM refers to any field requiring thorough knowledge and understanding of those four disciplines.

STEM fields are as diverse as they are numerous: aerospace engineering, computer science and electrical engineering are just a few examples of career paths rooted in a strong education in the four topics.

With foreign countries such as China and India now exceeding America in the amount of college graduates majoring in a STEM field, government agencies and local school districts are looking for ways to generate interest in the fields and keep America's workforce competitive.

"We need to provide [students] with the math and science at an early age to whet that appetite and to prepare them," said Tammy Richards, Plano ISD school board president and associate dean at Southern Methodist University's school of engineering. "Certainly you won't produce an engineer when they're still in high school, but you'll set them on a pathway where they're engaged with the topics."