"STEM BEST has provided me the skills and techniques necessary to handle a large variety of problems in my life, as well as improved my social skills. It is what forged me into the person I am today and has prepared me for college." With sentiments like that from past participants in Iowa’s STEM BEST Program, members of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council may rest assured that their work is profoundly shaping the next generation of innovators. Recently, the Center for Evaluation and Assessment at the University of Iowa was commissioned to conduct a study of graduates of the sixty-five models that dot the state, focusing on “Where are they now?” Their full report, available at IowaSTEM.org/STEMBEST, details a number of important gains attributable to the program:
- More than half of all graduates entered STEM jobs or post-secondary study.
- Top fields of employment are engineering, technology, computer science and health.
- Top majors are engineering, biology, health/medicine and computer science.
- 65% credit STEM BEST for developing their interest in STEM fields.
- Soft skills (e.g., communication) cited most frequently as skills graduates use daily.
- Professional skills (e.g., attire, etiquette) cited second most frequently as skills graduates use, followed by tech skills and collaboration.
The family of Iowa STEM BEST Program models is about to grow considerably as a 2021 cohort is soon to be announced. Moreover, thanks to Governor Reynold’s advocacy, an additional $700,000 has been approved by the Iowa legislature to expand this widely recognized workforce education program. Perhaps there is a tipping point on the horizon where every young Iowan will enjoy coursework connected to the world of commerce and employment. For now, all of Iowa’s STEM BEST Program models can be found HERE.