Magazine article National Defense

Defense Department Embraces STEM Education Outreach

Magazine article National Defense

Defense Department Embraces STEM Education Outreach

Article excerpt

The Defense Deaprtment hires more scientists and engineers, and sponsors more research and development projects than any other federal employer. It also faces more challenges for retaining and attracting its work force than private sector employers.

More than 35,000 scientists and engineers work in the department's 67 national laboratories on projects that require them to be U.S. citizens and often have high-level security clearances that take months to obtain. More than half of the existing scientists and engineers are over the age of 45 and will likely retire by 2020.

To address this multi-faceted hiring dilemma, 28 senior leaders across the department created a five-year STEM education and outreach strategic plan that sets out to ensure a diverse, world-class STEM work force. Under the leadership of Zachary Lemnios, director of defense research and engineering, the department will seek to collaborate with industry and other government agencies. The plan focuses on four key pillars: inspire students, parents, teachers and the public to engage in STEM discovery and innovation; develop a future, world-class STEM work force; attract and retain talent by creating a dynamic and innovative work environment within the Defense Department; and, deliver programs that inspire, develop, attract and retain world-class talent.

"Get a student involved in hands-on experiences and good things happen," said Lemnios.

Laura Adolfie, director of the STEM development office and administrator of the national defense education program, will lead development, implementation and assessment of "hands on" experiences. Congress' enactment of the science, mathematics, and research for transformation program in 2006, provides funds to support U.S. students' science and engineering degrees in exchange for working at a Defense Department lab year for one year. …

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