One way to create new jobs in the United States is to increase innovation among new graduates from engineering and the sciences. How can the United States motivate more students to major in those areas?
There is a big push, particularly in K-12 education in the United States, for STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. It is all part of the belief that scientific innovations, the ones that will keep American businesses and schools competitive worldwide, will come from students who understand and study science or engineering. However, it is not as simple as just exposing children to the concepts, as programs designed for K-12 schools tend to do. Engineering and the sciences are much more complex than that.
One way the United States can attract more students into these fields is, as there are already many attempts to do, teaching it to everyone. Most school programs strive to make engineering fun, with projects like building Lego bridges and programming robots. Some universities are also trying this approach, instead of the more traditional lecture-based education. However, the work of engineering is not primarily based on having fun; rather, it requires extensive knowledge and familiarity with math and science concepts. These are learned through disciplined study, ideally from childhood, as done in China and India. This may be something American educators need to consider adding to the curriculum.
Another possibility is to offer lower tuition, or student loan forgiveness, for students who choose engineering or science majors. Some private companies already offer these benefits, which make them attractive employers for young graduates. If we want to attract more students to the sciences and engineering fields, then it has to be worth their while after university as well.
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