STEM students bring in big bucks

Stamford schools have put a huge focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs in recent years, due in large part to the GE Foundation’s Developing Futures grant, which funneled millions of dollars into the city’s schools to strengthen the programs. The reasoning is pretty simple: When today’s students become tomorrow’s workforce, they’re going to need STEM skills to be competitive in a technology-based world. GE Foundation Director of U.S. Education Kelli Wells summed up the need pretty succinctly during an interview last spring:

“We have engineering positions constantly that are open, and yes, we get applicants, but many only meet the basic skills required,” she said.

“For America to really remain great and remain competitive, we need to make sure that we have an educated workforce, and you get to that by starting to build that pipeline, by making sure kids in kindergarten through 12th grade are getting the highest quality education possible.”

It’s important to note that when Wells talked about the “workforce,” she didn’t mean line level jobs. STEM majors often find themselves well prepared for high-level positions in the new global marketplace. In fact, Forbes just released a top 10 list of the best-paying college majors — and it’s no surprise that STEM subjects top the list. According to Forbes:

At the top end of the spectrum, computer engineering majors earn an average of $70,400 upon graduation, trailed by chemical engineers at $66,400 and computer scientists at $64,400.

Those majors are then followed by aerospace and aeronatuical engineering majors who earn an average of $64,000 out of school, and mechanical engineering majors round out the top five with a salary of $62,900. Electrical and electronic engineers have the sixth highest salary, civil engineers come in seventh, finance come in eighth, construction science ninth and information science and systems majors round out the top 10 at $56,100.

It’s fitting that this report came out just a couple hours after I joined Congressman Jim Himes and Stamford Superintendent Winifred Hamilton as they explored STEM in action at Turn of River Middle School this morning. You can read more about the district’s STEM initiatives in Saturday’s Advocate.

Maggie Gordon