Building blocks of an engineer start with math and science
According to futurist Jay J. Jamrog, 43 percent of the U.S. civilian labor force will be eligible to retire in the next decade. This includes Baby Boomers who will be leaving major voids in specialized industries such as engineering. To help fill this void, Metropolitan State College of Denver is collaborating with a worldwide engineering firm and a grassroots education program.
Part of the long-term solution to these industry shortages is to promote careers in science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics (STEM) to
young people, says Faye Tate, vice president and director of diversity at CH2M HILL, a worldwide engineering, construction and operations firm based in Denver.
“College is too late to tap and high school is still too late,” Tate says. “Middle schools and elementary schools are best.”
To help meet this need, CH2M HILL has partnered with the Colorado ‘I Have a Dream” Foundation (CIHAD), a program that strives to assist children (called Dreamers) from low-income communities to achieve their education and career goals by providing a 10-year program of mentoring, academic assistance, life-skills development, enrichment, and tuition assistance for higher education.
It doesn’t stop there. They have challenged Metropolitan State College of Denver, through its Apprentice Challenge @ Metro State pilot program, to help meet this need. This program follows two five-student teams made up of Metro State juniors through four challenges as they all vie to be named “the Apprentice.” It’s a multi-faceted program that provides the students hands-on opportunities to work with successful business and nonprofit leaders on projects that impact the local community.
The ultimate reward is a full-tuition scholarship for his/her senior year at Metro State and a paid internship with a local company. But, organizers emphasize the overall experience as having greater lasting value.
Currently on their third challenge, the Apprentice Challenge @ Metro State has joined the national effort to increase the pool of qualified professionals eligible to become engineers. They have been charged with developing a half-day program to inspire 60 local middle school students to consider STEM careers.
The interactive programs are slated for March 24 and 25 on the College campus. Apprentice Challenge @Metro State participants will be assisted by Assistant Professor of Chemistry Roosevelt Price and Center for Math, Science and Environmental Education Director Larry Johnson, as they develop experiments and activities to inspire the middle school kids.
“It is done naturally with the humanities and socials sciences,” says Price. “It’s important to foster a seed of math and sciences early so that it can also grow and bloom.”
“We are pleased to be collaborating with our passionate and committed partners, CH2M Hill and the Colorado “I Have a Dream” Foundation,” says Cherrelyn Napue, assistant vice president of Alumni Relations and executive director of the Alumni Association. “As with Projects one and two, we are excited about the rich personal and professional experiences that our Metro State students are receiving from the Challenges.”
To learn more about the program, visit http://www.mscd.edu/~alumni/apprenticechallenge/.