John Deere helps plant the seeds for STEM careers
- With just a $25,000 initial investment from the state, a STEM computer science academy in Iowa is prepping high schoolers for work in computer science careers with hands-on experience, mentors and training, the Quad-City Times reports.
- The inaugural IT academy was sponsored by John Deere and supported by teachers at two local high schools. Twelve students met in the classroom daily as well as in the Deere facility in Davenport to learn coding and programming.
- The students interviewed Deere employees posing as customers to come up with ideas and to create an app. One of the student teams presented an app that monitors plant growth, soil moisture and other agricultural issues. The second team created an app that allowed farmers to lease their equipment when not in use — Uber-style.
The Iowa IT academy is yet another initiative that seeks to introduce students at the high school level or younger into STEM and computer fields. The students agreed the real world, hands-on experience helped them better understand how classroom learning applies in the real world.
As the skills gap in computer science continues to vex American business, more companies are teaming up with educators to spark interest in and invest in training for STEM careers for those as young as elementary school students. GE recently provided $25 million in the Boston area to prep for STEM readiness; DXC is creating a Digital Transformation Center in New Orleans; and IBM has opened its own tech high school with nearly 600 students enrolled in 2017.
The U.S. Department of Labor says over half a million tech jobs remain open in the country today. A recent study predicts up to half of American jobs could be at risk due to computerization in the next 20 years. Government agencies, school districts and employers are leading the charge to groom students and workers for the coming “fourth industrial revolution.” Many companies are moving away from credential-based recruitment to a skills-based paradigm, often to address jobs that don’t currently exist.