EKU among Nation's Top STEM Institutions, Partners with Area Schools

Published on December 02, 2014

Eastern Kentucky University, recognized today as one of the top 125 STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics) colleges and universities in the nation, is partnering with five area high schools to advance among teens awareness of and preparation for STEM fields.

Eastern will partner with Madison Southern High School, Berea Community School, Pulaski County High School, Pulaski Southwestern High School, and Beechwood High School (Fort Mitchell).

Victory Media announced EKU’s designation as a 2015 STEM Jobs℠ Approved College. Its inaugural list is the first of its kind to rate universities, colleges, community and technical colleges and trade schools on how effectively they align their programs to high-demand, high-paying STEM jobs, how well they assist their students in achieving career aspirations in STEM fields, and their success in attracting and supporting diverse students and faculties in STEM fields.

EKU, the only public institution in Kentucky to make the list, is one of a handful to achieve Gold Status, the highest possible rank. To see the complete list, visit stemjobs.com/2015-stem-jobs-approved-colleges.

 “It is highly significant that we partner with area high schools to ease the transition between high school and college by expanding access to rigorous (dual credit) courses and programs in math and science, especially among women and minorities,” said Dr. Jaleh Rezaie, interim director of EKU’s STEM-H (Health) Institute. “According to My College Options® and STEMconnector®, nearly 28 percent of high school freshmen declare interest in a STEM-related field – approximately a million students each year. Of these students, more than 57 percent will lose interest in STEM by the time they graduate from high school. Even when students are interested, so many of them lack the math proficiency needed to succeed in college.”

The sponsorship of each school also includes free issues of the print and digital STEM Jobs℠ magazine as well as special STEM curriculum support provided free to sponsored schools.

EKU was among more than 1,000 schools participating in the STEM Jobs℠ survey process. Institutions submitting surveys were scored on publicly available data and responses to proprietary questions centered on three key indicators of success: STEM job alignment, STEM job placement, and diversity in a school’s STEM programs. Eastern will be featured in the Late Fall 2014 issue of STEM Jobs℠ magazine.

The STEM Jobs℠ Approved Colleges list will “help parents, students and guidance counselors evaluate how well education is translating into real-world jobs, and how responsive institutions are to meeting those demands,” said Daniel Nichols, president of STEM Jobs℠. “We’re pleased to showcase schools like EKU as a school leading the way in this area.”

Rezaie said: “It is such a great honor to be recognized for our STEM initiatives. The STEM-H Institute, EKU’s proactive effort to respond to the STEM and health issues our region, state and nation are facing, has been actively involved with area middle and high schools to promote STEM education the last three years.”

Over the past year alone, EKU’s STEM-H Institute has sponsored many initiatives to benefit P-12 students, including:

  • Microsoft TEALS Program, with placement of computer science majors in Lee County classrooms to enhance students’ computer literacy.
  • Governor’s Minority Student College Preparation Program (GMSCPP), to help Madison County middle school students to be academically successful and persist to graduation and college enrollment. Programming included a Saturday STEM program conducted by EKU faculty to introduce students to STEM-H fields, after-school educational enhancement sessions, and workshops for teachers and parents.
  • Kentucky Science and Engineering Fair, hosted by EKU, increasing interest and achievement in the sciences.
  • STEM-H Day, to increase interest in related fields and engage students with hands-on science activities and observation of science fair projects.
  • Madison County Library Summer Program, featuring hands-on science learning for K-12 students.
  • GMSCPP Annual Conference, a collaborative initiative where EKU hosted mentors and students from throughout the Commonwealth.
  • Summer camp for gifted and talented middle school students, with an expanded STEM-H focus.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, STEM jobs comprise more than 10 percent of the jobs in the United States, and many of those jobs pay wages almost double the U.S. average. “Preparing students for STEM jobs begins much earlier than college,” Rezaie said. “We need to work with the students and their parents and educators to make sure the awareness level, interest and skills grow at each level.”

For more information about EKU’s STEM-H Institute, visit stem-h.eku.edu.

To arrive at its rankings, Victory Media reviewed graduation data for 6,750 colleges and universities. More than 3,700 institutions were invited to participate, and 1,301 colleges and universities responded.