The STEAM advantage – Davison Index

In Flint & Genesee, we’re fortunate to have multiple highly regarded higher education institutions located right in our own backyard. One of those schools is Kettering University, which recently ranked best in the state for its alumni’s earning potential. In fact, Kettering graduates have an average starting salary of $75,700, according to a report from financial technology company SmartAsset.

This ranking speaks to the quality education Kettering students receive as well as the professional networks they’re able to build through the school’s co-op program. It also speaks to the types of career paths these graduates are pursuing, which are often in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, fields.

When it comes to these professions – which might include chemists, computer programmers, automotive engineers and mathematicians, to name a few – there’s a clear pattern of high wages and strong demand. STEM fields truly provide a great deal of opportunity.

Unfortunately, these industries are facing a major talent shortage. There are just not enough skilled workers to fill the openings that are becoming available. Likewise, of the two million bachelor’s degrees conferred in 2018–19, only 21 percent were in STEM fields, and women and minorities were especially underrepresented.

It’s with this in mind that, as of today, the YouthQuest afterschool program is wrapping up a week-long celebration of all things STEAM. As part of STEAMQuest, students have immersed themselves in activities that promoted problem solving, analytical thinking and learning by trial and error. They took part in racing robots, designing puzzles and producing and recording music.

You’ll notice that the acronym I shared in the above paragraph looks a little different than the rest. That’s because YouthQuest — which is administered by Flint & Genesee Education & Talent, a division of Flint & Genesee Group — makes a point to include art in STEM. From the program’s perspective, there isnt a career path out there that doesn’t benefit from the addition of a little creativity and ingenuity. As an art major who now serves as the chief operating officer for an organization committed to developing business, talent and place in Flint & Genesee, I have to say – I agree with them!

STEAMQuest is a great example of what makes afterschool programs so valuable. Students learn the framework for these concepts in day school, and then YouthQuest builds upon them in a way that is interactive and fun. Many people learn by doing, and that’s what this type of programming is all about. It goes beyond the textbook and help students draw connections that they might not have made otherwise.

This kind of exposure to STEAM is critical in getting Flint & Genesee youth interested and excited about pursuing a higher education and career path in one of these fields. It makes it accessible. It makes it enjoyable. And, most importantly, it makes it feel possible.

Kristina Johnston is COO of Flint & Genesee Group.

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