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Examination of the U.S.Air Force’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce Needs in the Future and its Strategy to Meet Those Needs 5 The Current and Future U.S. STEM-Degreed Workforce Chapters 3 and 4 explored issues for the Air Force’s STEM-degreed workforce that results from policies, conditions, and trends internal to the Air Force. This chapter focuses on external conditions—specifically trends in STEM education and the STEM-degreed workforce in the United States—that must be considered to prepare for the Air Force’s current and future STEM needs with realistic and effective actions. The challenges facing the Air Force as it seeks to acquire and retain STEM-degreed personnel are due in part to changing U.S. demographics and a more competitive career environment for U.S. citizens with STEM degrees. Some of these challenges relate to uncertainties about the adequacy of supply of STEM-degreed workers who can qualify for Air Force or aerospace positions. Other challenges relate to tapping the potential human resource in the growing numbers of women and disadvantaged minorities seeking college and postgraduate degrees. Fortunately, the Air Force is already involved in education-incentive programs that can be leveraged to help address these and other challenges in meeting future needs for STEM-skilled personnel. For this discussion, the undergraduate majors or postgraduate fields of study that the committee counts as having a STEM degree are those listed in Table 1-1. The term “STEM-degreed workforce” will be used to refer to all individuals who have an undergraduate major or postgraduate degree in one of the STEM fields, whether or not they are currently working in a position that requires a degree in that field. Terms such as “scientist” or “engineer” are used to refer broadly to those working in the indicated professional occupation. A FUNCTIONAL PROFILE OF A MEMBER OF THE STEM-DEGREED WORKFORCE With respect to the future U.S. STEM-degreed workforce, desired traits are well documented in reports such as The Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New Century (NAE, 2004) and Educating the Engineer of 2020 (NAE, 2005) and in publications of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). ABET provides appropriate auditing and certification for more than 1,700 university programs nationwide. Evaluations are performed on-campus by members of professional societies such as the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) for aerospace programs, American Society for Mechanical Engineers for mechanical engineering, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers for electrical engineering, as well as by university faculty. A significant component of ABET accreditation is the requirement that the program being evaluated demonstrate that its students attain a set of learning outcomes. The following set of 11 outcomes are those specified for graduates from an engineering program (ABET, 2008), but they also provide a functional profile applicable generally to all the STEM disciplines listed in Table 1-1 of this report. Taken together, these descriptors constitute a qualitative profile of the future engineer, and they are relevant to the other STEM disciplines as well:
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Examination of the U.S.Air Force’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce Needs in the Future and its Strategy to Meet Those Needs an ability to apply knowledge of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs with realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability an ability to function on multidisciplinary teams an ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility an ability to communicate effectively the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in, life-long learning a knowledge of contemporary issues an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice. (ABET, 2008, pg. 2) The ABET process provides some degree of validation and consistency for engineering and technology coursework. Thus, it helps ensure that the quality of STEM-degreed personnel remains high. This view was reaffirmed by the perceptions of the senior Air Force commanders from the product, test, and logistics centers who briefed the committee, as reported in the perspectives and perceptions sections of Chapters 3 and 4. WILL SUPPLY MEET DEMAND FOR THE U.S. STEM-DEGREED WORKFORCE? The committee identified a number of arguments that have been advanced in one forum or another to support concerns that the United States may face an inadequate supply of STEM-degreed workers in the future.1 For purposes of reviewing and commenting on such concerns in this report, these diverse arguments have been organized under six general issues: weaknesses in the pipeline of elementary and high school education that prepares students for success in STEM subjects in college, an apparent decline in student interest in science and mathematics, inadequate resources for the educational system, a decline in incentives to pursue a STEM career, slow growth or decline in the number of U.S. citizens or permanent residents earning advanced STEM degrees, and an aging STEM-degreed workforce. U.S. citizenship is an important workforce consideration because STEM-related positions in the Air Force require access to information that is either classified national security information or controlled unclassified information.2 Access to such information is often a requirement for STEM-related work in the aerospace industry. Concern about the Educational Pipeline The gist of this concern is that, as a consequence of inadequate educational opportunities in elementary and high school, careers in science and engineering (S&E) become beyond the reach of students who might otherwise pursue a STEM degree. Although the reasons for this lack of preparation in precollegiate science and math are undoubtedly complex, there is straightforward evidence that U.S. children at the elementary and high school levels are lagging their peers not only in the developed world but even in many developing countries. In a 1999 comparison of 15-year-olds in 37 countries, U.S. youth ranked 19th in math and 18th in science (Mullis et al., 2000, exhibit 1.1; Martin et. al., 2000, exhibit 1.1). A subsequent comparison of U.S. students over time 1 A recent example of an airing of many of the arguments summarized here was the Inside Aerospace 2008 international forum for the aerospace industry, sponsored by AIAA. See, for example, Chapter II, “The Issues: Attracting, Encouraging, and Inspiring Top Talent” in the formal report from the forum’s organizers (AIAA, 2008). 2 “Controlled unclassified information” includes information that comes under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) or other restrictions outside the formal national security classification process.
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Examination of the U.S.Air Force’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce Needs in the Future and its Strategy to Meet Those Needs found that the percentage of U.S. eighth graders meeting an international benchmark in advanced math achievement remained almost constant between 1995 and 2007 (Mullis et al., 2008), while the percentage that met the advanced benchmark in science declined (Martin et al., 2008). Many voices have proffered solutions for this lag in the science and math preparation necessary for a competitive STEM workforce (AIAA, 2008). Improving the quality of kindergarten-to-12th grade (K-12) teaching of science and mathematics is often an essential component of such solutions. The first recommendation of a 2007 study of the future U.S. STEM workforce by a committee of the National Academies, which reported its findings and recommendations in Rising Above the Gathering Storm, was to “increase America’s talent pool [in science and mathematics] by vastly improving K–12 science and mathematics education.” The authors urged, as “the highest priority,” three actions to implement this recommendation: Action A-1: Annually recruit 10,000 science and mathematics teachers by awarding 4-year scholarships and thereby educating 10 million minds…. Action A-2: Strengthen the skills of 250,000 teachers through training and education programs at summer institutes, in master’s programs, and in Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) training programs…. Action A-3: Enlarge the pipeline of students who are prepared to enter college and graduate with a degree in science, engineering, or mathematics by increasing the number of students who pass AP and IB science and mathematics courses. (NAS, NAE, IOM, 2007, pp. 5–6) Declining U.S. Student Interest in Science and Mathematics Compared with other developed nations, and particularly with the rapidly developing nations, relatively few U.S. students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in STEM fields. In testimony before a congressional committee in 2009, Norman Augustine, the chair of the study committee that wrote Rising Above the Gathering Storm, stated that the number of engineers and physical scientists graduated in the United States has declined by 20 percent. The number of U.S. citizens achieving Ph.D.s in engineering has declined by 34 percent, while two-thirds of the students who receive Ph.D.s in engineering from U.S. universities are non-U.S. citizens (Augustine 2009, pg. 2). The undergraduate program that is the single largest source of S&E doctoral students in the United States is Tsinghua University (in Beijing, China), while the second largest source of S&E doctoral students at U.S. universities is Peking University (Mervis, 2008). These trends do not bode well for the continued dominance of America’s technological edge at the macro level or for the Air Force’s needs for STEM-degreed personnel. Inadequate State Resources to Invest in Education During the economic recession that began in 2008, most states cut education budgets to deal with state budget deficits. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported in February 2009 that 36 states had cut education or were proposing cuts because of the budget deficits from the recession (Johnson et al., 2009).3 Some of the states hardest hit by this recession—e.g., California, Texas, and Florida—have had a strong aerospace workforce in the past. In California, the Department of Education’s “Budget Crisis Report Card” warns that the $17 billion in cumulative cuts to education in that state “threatens to derail the progress students have made over the last several years” (California Dept. of Education, 2010). Moreover, these three states have large and growing Hispanic communities, a group that has traditionally been underrepresented in science and engineering (Mellado and Yochelson, 2006). 3 In an update to their 2009 report, Johnson et al. reported in May 2010 that 30 states and the District of Columbia had enacted cuts to K-12 education and 42 states had cut their budgets for higher education (Johnson et al., 2010).
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Examination of the U.S.Air Force’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce Needs in the Future and its Strategy to Meet Those Needs Yet even with the pressures on state education budgets, selected states with large Hispanic populations have demonstrated the potential for success by providing role models plus lessons learned. For example, Texas has created the Texas Engineering and Technical Consortium, a statewide initiative that involves state and local collaboration with industry to address K-12 shortfalls (Grose, 2006). Are Incentives to Enter STEM Careers Declining? Science and engineering are challenging fields. The time it takes to complete a degree is often longer than in other fields, and compensation after acquiring a degree is not always commensurate with the amount of time required. Nor does the compensation in STEM careers relative to non-STEM careers make a STEM career appealing. The relative pay in STEM careers has fallen far short of the compensation in careers such as medicine, health care, law, and management/business (Hosek and Galama, 2008). Speakers at the 2008 AIAA Inside Aerospace conference who expressed concern about the incentives to enter STEM careers included chief executive officers and human resource managers from the aerospace industry, representatives from the Aerospace Department Chairs Association (reflecting the perceptions of educators at the baccalaureate and higher levels), and senior advisors to Congress and to the Executive Office of the President, all of whom were dealing with aerospace workforce issues on a daily basis (AIAA, 2008). Among their concerns was a perception that scholarships and fellowships for students interested in pursuing a STEM degree, especially at the undergraduate level, are in short supply. They cited studies suggesting that the hardest hit students are those from low and/or middle income households. They described concerns among students in some fields, especially at the graduate level, that jobs may not be available when those students receive their degrees. Another concern was that, while jobs for STEM-degreed workforce entrants may be generally available, career opportunities that would generate excitement among recent graduates may be declining. Money is definitely a motivator, conference participants reported, but an increased number of college graduates appear to be more concerned with job satisfaction, quality of life, and making a positive contribution to society (AIAA, 2008). In contrast to these factors viewed as decreasing STEM career incentives, recent economic events may be pushing in the other direction. The Wall Street collapse of 2008 has the potential to increase the incentives for choosing a STEM career through at least two factors. First, economic stimulus measures such as the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the fiscal year 2009 omnibus appropriations bill have provided funds that can be allocated to supporting graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in STEM disciplines. Second, these incentives come at a time when careers in finance have lost much of their appeal, both monetarily and in terms of the social respect they command (Lohr, 2009). National Science Foundation (NSF) indicators on S&E education and the S&E-degreed workforce do not yet show how strongly these and other factors will ultimately affect the S&E workforce of the future. On the scholarship/fellowship supply issue, for instance, NSF data on the primary source of support for all S&E graduate students show gradually increasing levels of research grants and a stable level of fellowship support over the period 1985–2005. Teaching assistantships as the primary source of S&E graduate student support did decrease from about 24 percent to 18 percent over this period, while self-support as the primary source increased from 30 percent to 34 percent (NSB, 2008, appendix table 2-7). For 2005, the NSF graduate student categories for All Engineering and Aerospace Engineering had higher levels of research grant support (41 and 42 percent, respectively) than All S&E (28 percent) and lower levels of self-support (28 and 24 percent respectively) than did All S&E (34 percent) (NSB, 2008, appendix Table 2-8).
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Examination of the U.S.Air Force’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce Needs in the Future and its Strategy to Meet Those Needs Tables 5-1 through 5-4 summarize NSF data on entering freshmen intending to major in a S&E field, bachelor degrees in STEM fields earned by U.S citizens or permanent residents, S&E graduate enrollments of U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and STEM master’s degrees earned by U.S. citizens and permanent residents. The general picture from these four indicators is that the data for the Engineering category show a drop—a steep drop in some cases such as graduate enrollment in engineering or engineering bachelor degrees—sometime between 1985 and 2000. For All S&E and for Natural Sciences, the pattern up to 2000 is mixed. And most of the indicators show a flat or increasing trend from about 2000 to 2005, although in some cases the levels have not yet regained their previous peaks. TABLE 5-1. Percentage of Freshmen Intending S&E Majors, 1985–2006 STEM Field 1985 1995 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 All S&E 32.6% 32.4% 33.1% 33.5% 33.5% 32.6% 33.1% 30.9% 32.0% Physical, computer, & math. sciencesa 13.0% 15.4% 15.2% 14.8% 13.6% 12.8% 13.3% 12.9% 13.5% Engineering 11.0% 8.1% 8.7% 9.1% 9.5% 9.3% 9.6% 8.4% 8.0% aIncludes physical sciences, mathematics/statistics, and computer sciences; excludes biological/agricultural sciences and social/behavioral sciences. All of these science areas plus engineering are included in “All S&E.” SOURCE: NSB, 2008, Vol. II, Table 2-15. TABLE 5-2. Bachelor Degrees in STEM Fields Earned by U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents, 1985–2005 STEM Field 1985 1995 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 All S&E 328,899 363,463 383,438 384,492 399,288 423,358 437,228 447,559 Natural Sciences 125,047 124,311 145,321 146,216 151,871 160,862 163,020 161,859 Engineering 71,381 58,561 55,003 54,839 56,372 59,498 60,128 61,396 SOURCE: NSB, 2008, Vol. II, Table 2-28. TABLE 5-3. S&E Graduate Enrollment, U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents, 1985–2005 STEM Field 1985 1995 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 All S&E 324,081 396,755 364,954 368,840 387,532 412,282 424,147 436,530 Natural Sciences 161,021 198,753 193,036 195,259 205,709 218,925 227,424 233,716 Engineering 67,187 71,717 56,711 56,971 61,362 67,393 66,456 66,638 SOURCE: NSB, 2008, Vol. II, Table 2-22. TABLE 5-4. Earned Master’s Degrees in STEM Fields Earned by U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents, 1985–2005 STEM Field 1985 1995 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 All S&E 52,220 72,092 70,933 71,564 71,623 75,542 83,120 86,563 Natural Sciences 19,462 20,986 22,589 23,230 23,721 25,466 27,626 27,788 Engineering 15,241 18,931 15,913 15,522 15,463 16,330 18,252 19,219 SOURCE: NSB, 2008, Vol. II, Table 2-30.
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Examination of the U.S.Air Force’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce Needs in the Future and its Strategy to Meet Those Needs For the future Air Force STEM-degreed workforce, perhaps the principal long-term consideration is that the historical pattern of an ample supply of STEM-degreed graduates and young workers to meet both industry and military service demands cannot be taken for granted. Will the drops in college-level and graduate preparation for engineering careers, which occurred in 1985–2000, resume? Or will the stable-to-increasing trends since 2000 continue—and will they suffice to meet the needs of both the Air Force and the aerospace industry, if those needs increase substantially? In a competitive labor market, the Air Force will need to consider the incentives and disincentives it presents to students considering a STEM career and to recent graduates just entering the workforce with a STEM degree. Uncertainties in the Number of U.S. Citizens Earning Advanced STEM Degrees The number of graduate students earning advanced S&E degrees in the United States has continued to grow over the past decade. However much of this growth has come from foreign citizens who are here on temporary visas and are therefore ineligible for the security clearances and access to restricted information required for many jobs in the Air Force and the aerospace industry. As Table 5-5 shows, the number of new S&E Ph.D.s increased by 8 percent from 2000 to 2005, with a slight decline in the first part of this period more than offset by the increase since 2002. However, the absolute number of new Ph.D.s who can get the clearances required for many of the positions in the Air Force or the aerospace and defense industry (U.S. citizens plus Permanent Resident visas) has decreased by 5.5 percent over this period, with the early strong decline only partially recovered since 2002. The concern is whether this recent uptick will continue or the longer-term downward trend will dominate. TABLE 5-5. S&E Doctoral Degrees Visa status 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 Change, ‘00-‘05 All S&E 27,557 27,037 26,235 26,907 27,991 29,751 +8.0 % U.S. Citizen 16,826 16,112 15.466 15,799 15,933 16,118 −4.0% % of all S&E 61.1% 59.6% 59.0% 58.7% 56.9% 54.2% −11.3% Perm. Resident 1,484 1,338 1,238 1,157 1,076 1,189 −19.9% U.S. Cit. +Perm. Res 18,310 17,450 16,704 16,956 17,009 17,307 −5.5% % of All S&E 66.4% 64.5% 63.7% 63.0% 60.8% 58.2% −12.3% Temporary Res. 7,964 8,260 8,015 8,711 9,516 10,792 35.5% % of All S&E 28.9% 30.5% 30.6% 32.4% 34.0% 36.3% 25.6% SOURCE: Numbers of doctoral degrees are from NSB, 2008, Vol. II, Table 2-32. Percentages calculated by NRC staff. In recent years, the number of master’s degrees in S&E fields has grown more quickly than in 2000–2002 (Table 5-6). For the 5-year period from 2000 to 2005, the rate of growth for all S&E masters degrees was 25 percent. After slower growth in the number of U.S. citizens and permanent residents in 2000-2002, that rate has increased in recent years, and the percentage of new S&E masters earned by students eligible for a security clearance has held in the 70–72 percent range since 2001.
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Examination of the U.S.Air Force’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce Needs in the Future and its Strategy to Meet Those Needs TABLE 5-6. S&E Master’s Degrees Visa status 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 Change, ‘00-‘05 All S&E 95,683 98,986 99,173 107,910 118,470 120,025 25.4% U.S. Citizen NR NR NR NR NR NR U.S. Cit. +Perm. Res 70,933 71,564 71,623 75,542 83,120 86,563 22.0% % of All S&E 74.1% 72.3% 72.2% 70.0% 70.2% 72.1% Temporary Res. 24,750 27,422 27,550 32,368 35,350 33,462 35.2% % of All S&E 25.9% 27.7% 27.8% 30.0% 29.8% 27.9% SOURCE: Numbers of masters degrees are from NSB, 2008, Vol. II, Table 2-30. Percentages calculated by NRC staff. Numbers for U.S. citizens earning masters degrees were not reported (NR). Aging of the STEM Workforce The National Science Board has noted that the age distribution for the American workforce with STEM degrees is increasing. Whereas rapid increases in this workforce in the past resulted in a relatively young age distribution, that historical pattern is changing. Slightly more than a quarter (26.4 percent) of all S&E-degreed workers are now over 50 (NSB, 2008, pp. 3-43 to 3-45). This aging trend is even more pronounced in the aerospace and defense industry, where 58 percent of the workforce is over age 50. Although many workers with S&E degrees continue to work beyond age 50, the proportion falls with age, decreasing to 40 percent by age 65 (Hedden, 2008, pg. 73). As with the Air Force’s STEM-degreed civilian workforce (see Chapter 3 and Figure 3-1), the aerospace industry has a bimodal age distribution, with the highest percentages of workers (the modes of the distribution) being those in the early years of their careers and those over 40 years old (NRC, 2006, pg. 20). Within the industry, there are concerns about an imminent “silver tsunami” of retirements, although the retirement rate for those eligible to retire has been lower since 2005 than previously anticipated (Hedden, 2008, pg. 72; AIAA, 2008, pg. 3). As the STEM-degreed workforce ages and moves into less than full-time employment and retirement, the challenge will be to fill vacant positions with newly trained scientists and engineers. The report from the 2008 Inside Aerospace conference warned that, “Atrophy of the U.S. aerospace workforce is a system-wide problem” because “[t]here are an insufficient number of students emerging from our educational system with [STEM] training to replenish the retirement of skilled people from the aerospace profession and meet the other national needs for engineers” (AIAA, 2008, pg. 3). Whether or not the supply of STEM graduates in general is sufficient to meet demand, the workforce recruitment challenge will be intensified for the Air Force, which must seek U.S. citizens who can gain a security clearance. At the time of the 2008 survey of the aerospace and defense industry, nearly 53 percent of the open job requisitions required U.S. citizenship (Hedden, 2008, pg. 74). WOMEN AND UNDERREPRESENTED MINORITIES IN THE STEM-DEGREED WORKFORCE For multiple reasons, women and disadvantaged minorities represent a valuable pool of potential workers that the Air Force cannot and should not ignore in planning for its future STEM-degreed and STEM-cognizant workforce. First, as an agency of the federal government, the Air Force is required to adhere to policies in hiring its own employees and in contracting with aerospace companies that are intended to rebalance historical trends now judged to have been unfairly discriminatory against these segments of the population. Second (but not second in importance), women and minorities represent an opportunity: a reservoir of talent and potential
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Examination of the U.S.Air Force’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce Needs in the Future and its Strategy to Meet Those Needs expertise in STEM fields that can be tapped to meet the demand for workers with the STEM skills that both the Air Force and industry require. As discussed below, women and minorities already comprise the majority of college students and will constitute the majority of the future U.S. workforce. Nonetheless, the Air Force—and the aerospace industry that both supports the Air Force with STEM capability and competes with it for STEM-degreed workers—will be challenged to make the most of this workforce opportunity. The data presented below show that women are still not pursuing STEM degrees in the disciplines most needed by the Air Force and the aerospace industry in numbers representative of their percentage of the population, of college graduates, or of the future workforce. By contrast, students from racial/ethnic minorities who pursue higher (post-secondary) education are earning bachelor degrees in S&E at rates generally comparable to—or even greater than—White students. The major issue for minorities other than those of Asian ethnicity,4 is their lower participation rate (including both enrollment and retention/completion rates) in higher education, relative to the racial/ethnic profile for their age group. Women and Minorities in the Current Workforce To provide current workforce benchmarks against which to compare statistics on women and minorities now preparing to enter the workforce, the committee used standard occupational classification (SOC) data from the 2000 census to characterize the gender and racial/ethnic profiles for four engineering categories (aerospace engineers, civil engineers, electrical and electronic engineers, and mechanical engineers) and two scientist categories (atmospheric and space scientists and chemical and material scientists). These occupational profiles, detailed in appendix C, display the following general patterns: Fewer than 1 in 10 engineers is a woman except for civil engineers, where just about 1 in 10 is a woman. The science fields have more women: about 13 percent of atmospheric and space scientists and nearly a third of chemical and material scientists are women. More than 80 percent of engineers in these categories are non-Hispanic White. About 4 percent (3.3–4.6 percent across the four categories) are Hispanic, Another 8 to 9 percent are Asian, 3 to 4 percent are Black, and less than 0.5 percent are Native American. Among atmospheric and space scientists, 91 percent are White; none of the minority groups has more than 3 percent of the profile. Among chemical and material scientists, 74 percent are White and 14 percent are Asian. Blacks constitute 6 percent of this group and Hispanics 4 percent. In 2000, the general population profile was about 63 percent non-Hispanic White, 12.5 percent Hispanic, 12.3 percent Black, 3.7 percent Asian, 0.9 percent Native American, and about 8 percent in another racial/ethnic group or belonging to two or more groups.5 For the 18–64 age group, which can be taken as the working-age population, the 2000 census found that 49.7 percent were males and 50.3 percent were females.6 Comparing these general population statistics with the committee’s S&E profile, one can gauge the degree to which women and minorities (except Asian) are underrepresented in STEM fields currently most important to the Air Force. 4 For ease of reference, this report includes in the “Asian” category those designated as “Asian/Pacific Islanders” in the text and appendix tables of Science and Engineering Indicators 2008 (NSB, 2008). 5 These percentages are approximate and were derived from Quick Table QT-P3, Race and Hispanic or Latino: 2000, available from the U.S. Census Bureau at www.census.gov. 6 Percentages were derived from Quick Table QT-P1, Age Groups and Sex: 2000, available from the U.S. Census Bureau at www.census.gov.
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Examination of the U.S.Air Force’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce Needs in the Future and its Strategy to Meet Those Needs Increasing Women’s Role in the Future STEM Workforce In 2005, women comprised 48.8 percent of the U.S. population aged 20–24. By 2025, the proportion of women in that age group is projected to increase just slightly to 49.1 percent (NSB, 2008, appendix table 2-14). In 2006, just 27 percent of entering freshmen women said they intended to major in any S&E field, whereas 37.9 percent of freshmen men intended an S&E major (NSB, 2008, appendix table 2-15). Thus, even though more women than men have been going to college since 1982, fewer than half (47 percent) of freshmen intending an S&E major are women (NSB, 2008, pp. 2-18, 2-26). For STEM fields of particular relevance to the Air Force and aerospace, the gender gap in intended majors is often much greater: just 2.5 percent of freshmen women intended to major in engineering in 2006, compared with 14.5 percent of freshmen men. Just 1 percent of freshmen women intended to major in mathematics or computer science, compared with 4 percent of freshmen men (NSB, 2008, appendix table 2-15). Women earned 58 percent of all bachelor degrees awarded in 2005 and 50.5 percent of the bachelor degrees in an S&E major (NSB, 2008, appendix table 2-27). They have earned about half of all S&E bachelor degrees since 2000 (NSB, 2008, pg. 2-26). The National Center for Education Statistics projects that undergraduate enrollment, while continuing to increase overall, will remain at roughly 57 percent women and 43 percent men through 2017 (NCES, 2008, pp. 14, 95). However, a substantial gender gap in STEM-degreed graduates still exists in some STEM fields of high interest to the Air Force. Only 1 in 5 bachelor degrees in engineering went to a woman in 2005 because only 1.6 percent of graduating women, compared with 8.7 percent of graduating men, were engineering majors. Just over a fourth (27 percent) of all bachelor degrees in math and computer science went to a woman because only 2.2 percent of women majored in these fields, versus 7.8 percent of men (NSB, 2008, appendix table 2-27). Women earned nearly 60 percent of all master’s degrees awarded in 2005, but only 44 percent of the degrees in an S&E field. They earned 22 percent of the master’s degrees in engineering, 32 percent of those in math and computer science, and 37 percent of those in the physical sciences (NSB, 2008, appendix table 2-29). Identifying and accessing the factors underlying the gender gaps noted above is beyond the scope of this report, but there are reasons to believe those factors are malleable. First, the number of S&E bachelor degrees awarded to women has been increasing since at least 1985, with notable increases in physical sciences. In chemistry, for example, women’s share of bachelor degrees increased from 25 percent in 1985 to 42 percent in 2005 (NSB, 2008, pg. 2-26). Second, in 2006, the ratio of freshmen women to men intending to major in physical sciences was 71 percent—about the same as the 72 percent ratio for those intending to major in any S&E field. And in 2005, the number of bachelor degrees in physical sciences earned by women was 75 percent of those earned by men. If freshman women’s interest in STEM fields with currently low proportions of women, such as engineering and computer sciences, can be shifted and then sustained through their college years, as historically has occurred in some physical sciences, the increase in degreed graduates in those fields would be substantial. Increasing Minorities’ Role in the Future STEM Workforce For Blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans, statistics on higher education suggest that interest in STEM careers among those entering and graduating from college is relatively high. The challenge will be to bring the numbers who are college-bound and college-degreed in line with their age-group profile, which is shown in the first row of Table 5-7.
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Examination of the U.S.Air Force’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce Needs in the Future and its Strategy to Meet Those Needs TABLE 5-7. Distribution of Earned Bachelor Degrees by S&E Field and Racial Ethnic Group, 2005, U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents only Population Segment All Degrees Black Hispanic Asian Native American Non-Hispanic White All 20–24 year olds, 2005 -- 14.8 17.3 4.3 1.1 61.6 All bachelor degrees, % of degrees 100 9.0 7.9 6.5 0.7 70.2 Any S&E degree, % of S&E degrees 100 8.8 7.9 9.6 0.7 67.3 Any S&E degree, % of group 32.4 31.3 32.1 47.5 33.1 30.8 Engineering degree, % of degrees 100 5.2 7.5 13.4 0.6 68.7 Engineering degree, % of group 4.6 2.5 4.2 9.1% 3.7 4.3 Physical sci. degrees, % of degrees 100 6.7 6.5 9.2 0.7 71.7 Physical sci. degrees., % of group 1.0 0.8 0.9 1.5 1.1 1.1 Math/computer sci., % of degrees 100 10.1 6.6 12.3 0.5 62.2 Math/computer sci., % of group 4.6 4.9 3.6 8.3 3.4 3.9 SOURCES: NSB, 2008, appendix table 2-28 for all degree-related data. Percentages for all 20–24 age groups except Native Americans are from NSB, 2008, appendix table 2-14. Percentage for Native Americans aged 20–24 calculated from appendix table 2-14 total for all groups and 2000 census data on Native Americans aged 15 to 19, from www.census.gov The second and third rows of Table 5-7 show the racial/ethnic profile for all bachelor degrees and all S&E degrees, respectively, earned in 2005. For the three minority groups that are underrepresented, relative to their age-group profile—Blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans—the profile for all S&E degrees mirrors the profile for all degrees. Asian and non-Hispanic White students are overrepresented relative to the age-group profile, with Asian students earning S&E degrees at more than twice their percentage in the age-group profile. Given the similarity in the profiles of the three underrepresented minorities with respect to all bachelor degrees and any S&E degree, the fourth row in the table is not surprising: the percentages of students within each group who earned an S&E degree are similar to each other (ranging from 31.3 to 33.1 percent) and to the percentage for the graduating population as a whole (32.4 percent). Each minority group earned S&E degrees in 2005 at a higher rate (percentage within their group) than did non-Hispanic Whites. Since 1995 at least, the percentages of S&E degrees awarded to both the underrepresented minorities and Asians has increased, while the percentage awarded to non-Hispanic Whites has decreased.7 The remaining rows of Table 5-7 show the distribution across racial/ethnic groups (first row of each pair) and the percentage of the group who earned degrees in that field (second row of each pair) for three S&E fields of high interest for Air Force and aerospace workforce needs: engineering, physical sciences, and mathematics and computer sciences. The underrepresentation of Blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans is greater in these fields than it is for all S&E degrees. 7 See Table 1 in appendix C for trends in S&E bachelor degrees from 1995 to 2004. Note that the percentages shown in that table include nonresident aliens, whereas Table 5-7 is for U.S. citizens and permanent residents only.
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Examination of the U.S.Air Force’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce Needs in the Future and its Strategy to Meet Those Needs In summary, women and the minority ethnic/racial groups currently underrepresented in the STEM workforce and among students earning STEM degrees are segments of the future U.S. workforce that the Air Force cannot ignore for its future needs for STEM-degreed personnel, but there will be challenges in making the most of these potential resources. The Air Force should continue to build on existing relationships and memoranda of understanding with groups whose membership reflects an intersection of these population groups with career interests in STEM fields important to the Air Force. Among such groups are Women in Aviation International, Tuskegee Airmen Incorporated, the League of United Latin American Citizens, Asian-American Engineers, Black Engineers, Hispanic Engineers, International Black Aerospace Council, and Shades of Blue, as well as many others. Finally, the Air Force should take a leadership position on coordinating these relationship-fostering programs with agencies in the Department of Defense or other federal agencies. PROGRAMS TO INCREASE THE STEM-DEGREED WORKFORCE While there is uncertainty about the adequacy of future supply of STEM-degreed U.S. citizens, there is also a wealth of documented programs that have been created to aid in increasing that supply. They range from programs focused on the K-12 years to industry- or company-unique initiatives that support university faculty and student internships and fellowships. There is certainly an awareness of the importance of addressing the pipeline issues. At this time, the principal issue may be increasing the number of STEM-degreed graduates—particularly those who can meet the requirements for access to classified or restricted information (Hedden 2008, pg. 74). Programs Supported by Industry and Professional Organizations Many programs are geared toward enhancing awareness of STEM subjects among K-12 students and preparing teachers to teach—and students to learn—about these subjects. These are potential models for replication, but in general, most of them as currently structured reach too few youth to have substantial impact on workforce outcomes. Other constraining factors include differing requirements imposed by many state agencies and local school districts. A 2008 inventory created by Boeing, for example, lists more than 80 such programs nationwide.8 Reports by Raytheon in partnership with the Business-Higher Education Forum (Wells, et al., 2008) and by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) identify a significant number of programs trying to improve STEM-related education in grades K-12 (AIA, 2008). Many professional organizations are working hard to develop more focus on sustainability and growth in the aerospace workforce as documented in the recent (AIA) report, Launch into Aerospace (AIA, 2008). One key call to action in that report was, “Each AIA company will designate a senior executive responsible for implementing the company’s commitment to workforce revitalization and accountable for measurable progress in revitalizing and growing the STEM workforce” (AIA, 2008, pg. 8). Considering that more than 300 companies are AIA members, this charge has potentially far-reaching implications. Other organizations such as AIAA, the International Council on Systems Engineering, and the traditional engineering professional societies offer extensive training and education programs that are designed for skill-set enrichment, professional development, and certifications for existing industry and government employees. So, while aerospace workforce needs may in some degree remain unfilled, significant resources are being devoted to addressing both current and future requirements. 8 Unpublished white paper on K-12 program inventory. Available on request from Terri Morse, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Examination of the U.S.Air Force’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce Needs in the Future and its Strategy to Meet Those Needs Two Successful Programs with Air Force Sponsorship To illustrate the opportunities and the challenges for the Air Force in joining with industry and academic partners to improve the STEM pipeline and foster interest in STEM career opportunities, the committee selected two programs that have been successful in providing STEM education to substantial numbers of students in the critical early years of their schooling: Project STARBASE and Project Lead the Way. These examples were selected because the Air Force is already involved in them and they were recommended as useful models by individuals involved in education and outreach activities who were interviewed by the committee. There are certainly many other successful programs and activities to enhance STEM education and student interest that are worthy of support. Project STARBASE In 1991, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs began sponsoring a program called Project STARBASE (Science and Technology Academies Reinforcing Basic Aviation and Space Exploration), which has been successful in addressing shortfalls in STEM education in elementary schools.9 STARBASE is a partnership among the military, school systems, and communities. Its vision is “to raise the interest and improve the knowledge and skills of at-risk youth in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, which will provide for a highly educated and skilled American workforce that can meet the advanced technological requirements of the Department of Defense.” 10 The program provides students with 20–25 hours of exemplary instruction, using a common core curriculum, and stimulating, real-world experiences at National Guard, Navy, Marine, Air Force Reserve, and Air Force bases across the nation. It introduces them to role models—military personnel with STEM backgrounds—with whom they would not otherwise come into contact. In 18 years, the program has reached over 450,000 youth and expanded from one site in Michigan to 34 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The program’s website explains the program further: Students participate in challenging “hands-on, mind-on” activities in aviation, science, technology, engineering, math, and space exploration. They interact with military personnel to explore careers and make connections with the “real world.… DoD STARBASE focuses on elementary students, primarily fifth graders. The goal is to motivate them to explore science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) as they continue their education. The academies serve students that are historically underrepresented in STEM. Students who live in inner cities or rural locations, those who are socio-economically disadvantaged, low in academic performance or have a disability are in the target group. The program encourages students to set goals and achieve them. The program engages students through the inquiry-based curriculum with its ‘hands-on, mind-on’ experiential activities. They study Newton's Laws and Bernoulli's principle and learn about the wonders of space and the properties of matter. Technology captivates the children as they use the computer to design space stations, all-terrain vehicles, and submersibles. Math is embedded throughout the curriculum and students use metric measurement, estimation, 9 The committee’s judgment on the success of Project STARBASE is based upon comments and recommendations heard from Dr. Ronald M. Sega, formerly Director of Defense Research and Engineering and Undersecretary of the Air Force and currently professor and Vice President of Applied Research at Colorado State University; Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs Dennis M. McCarthy; Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, Commander, U.S. Strategic Command; Gen. Victor E. Renuart, Jr., Commander, North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command; Rear Admiral Joseph F. Kilkenny, Commander, Naval Education, and Training command; and MG Tod Bunting, Adjutant General, Kansas National Guard. 10 See http://www.starbasedod.com/index.php.
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Examination of the U.S.Air Force’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce Needs in the Future and its Strategy to Meet Those Needs calculation and geometry to solve questions. Teamwork is stressed as they work together to explore, explain, elaborate and evaluate concepts. The military volunteers apply abstract principles to real world situations by leading tours and giving lectures on the use of STEM in different settings and careers. Since the academies are located in different branches of the military this experience is highly varied. Students may discuss how chemical fires are extinguished, learn how injured are transported, explore the cockpit of an F-18 or the interior of a submarine.11 Teacher and student assessments of the program are conducted routinely and reported in the STARBASE annual reports, which are available on the program website. With respect to its ultimate impact on increasing interest in STEM careers and growth of the U.S. STEM-degreed workforce, STARBASE is a long-term investment, and more time will be needed to document its long-term consequences. Even so, the positive responses from educators, parents and students, documented in the participant assessments, indicate that STARBASE is having substantial positive impact. It would benefit the nation to expand the STARBASE program, with the goal of exposing a larger number of at-risk youth across the nation to math and science education, especially in inner cities where students’ interests in STEM are low and their risk for dropping out of school is high. Project Lead the Way Another notable program, Project Lead the Way (PLTW), has a decade of experience and statistics documenting the merit of its approach to middle school and high school teacher training to better provide STEM learning in the classroom.12 The PLTW program has five learning modules for middle school including one on “flight and space.” At the high school level, there are eight courses including one focused on “aerospace engineering.” The PLTW approach/curriculum is endorsed by the AIAA, AIA, American Society for Engineering Education, National Defense Industrial Association, and many other professional organizations, plus U.S. corporations. The program has achieved the following milestones: In 12 years, it has expanded to 49 states and 2,000 schools. Approximately 10,000 middle and high school teachers have been trained. Over 200,000 students have completed PLTW modules. The committee heard positive assessments of the effectiveness of PLTW from multiple sources outside the PLTW program itself.13 According to these sources, high school graduates with PLTW certificates are more likely to attend and complete college and to do so in S&E fields.14 The PLTW website reports the following results that support this claim:15 11 “DoD Starbase: About Us.” Available online at http://www.starbasedod.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogsection&id=6&Itemid=48. Last accessed May 6, 2010. 12 Project Lead the Way website, www.PLTW.org. 13 The committee discussed Project Lead the Way (PLTW) with Jon Ogg, Headquarters AFMC, as part of a discussion of AFMC/ASC outreach activities at the committee’s first meeting in August 2008. More information on PLTW came from three representatives of Battelle Memorial Institute, who discussed education outreach activities by both the Air Force and the aerospace industry at the committee’s second meeting (October 1, 2008). Individual members also heard evaluations of PLTW from Julie Albertson of the University of Colorado at the Inside Aerospace conference in 2008 (see AIAA, 2008, pg. 10) and from Richard C. Liebich at the 2009 Inside Aerospace conference. PLTW was highlighted as a model for successful outreach to K-12 students by Dr. Ronald Sega, former NASA astronaut and Under Secretary of the Air Force in his speech at the Space 2008 conference in San Diego. 14 Rich Rosen, Vice President, Education and Philanthropy, Battelle Memorial Institute, presentation to the committee on September 30, 2008.
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Examination of the U.S.Air Force’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce Needs in the Future and its Strategy to Meet Those Needs PLTW alumni study engineering and technology at 5 to 10 times the rate of non-PLTW students. PLTW students have a higher retention rate in college engineering, science, and related programs than non-PLTW students. 80 percent of PLTW seniors say they will study engineering, technology, or computer science in college whereas the national average in 32 percent. The Air Force should consider becoming a sponsor of Project Lead the Way (PLTW) to enhance the knowledge base of middle and high school teachers. FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Finding 5-1a. There is reason for concern as to whether the supply of scientists and engineers who can obtain a security clearance will be adequate to meet the future needs of the Air Force. As an example, while the total of all S&E doctoral degrees awarded annually increased 8 percent from 2000 to 2005, the number of S&E doctoral degrees awarded to U.S. citizens and permanent residents decreased 5.5 percent over the same period. From 2002 to 2005, the number of U.S. citizens earning S&E doctoral degrees increased slowly but not enough to regain earlier levels. Finding 5-1b. In light of the continuing substantial change in U.S. demographics, with women and minority groups constituting a growing segment of the target group for potential recruits, the Air Force is well positioned to take a proactive role in addressing the national shortfalls among middle and high school youth in math and science and, as a result, to work to create a more competitive U.S. workforce from which the Air Force can select its future STEM-degreed personnel. Recommendation 5-1. The Air Force should create a vehicle to coordinate and evaluate existing STEM-related outreach, education, and training activities. Current activities of this type include Project STARBASE, the Falcon Foundation, Civil Air Patrol, and Junior ROTC, as well as its partnerships in such activities with the Air Force Association, AIAA, and others. The charter for this group should include creating connectivity between such activities so that promising participants from across the entire demographic makeup of our nation have ready access to the next academic level or program that builds on the experience gained from interacting with the Air Force STEM-related outreach efforts. It seems suitable for the office having these responsibilities to be at the Air Staff level. REFERENCES ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology). 2008. Criteria for Accrediting Engineering Programs: Effective for Evaluations During the 2009–2010 Accreditation Cycle. Baltimore, Maryland: ABET, Inc. AIA (Aerospace Industries Association). 2008. Launch into Aerospace. September 2008. Arlington, Virginia: Aerospace Industries Association. Available online at www.aia-aerospace.org AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics). 2008. Inside Aerospace: An International Forum for Aviation and Space Leaders Working Together to Build the Aerospace Workforce of Tomorrow. Report and recommendations of a forum held in 15 “Project Lead the Way: About Us.” Available online at http://beta.pltw.org/about-us/impact, accessed May 6, 2010.
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Examination of the U.S.Air Force’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce Needs in the Future and its Strategy to Meet Those Needs Arlington, Virginia, May 13–14, 2008. Reston, Virginia: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Augustine, N.R. 2009. America’s Competitiveness. Statement Before the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC, January 7, 2009. Available at www.aau.edu/WorkArea/showcontent.aspx?id=8154. California Dept. of Education. 2010. Budget Crisis Report Card. Available online at http://www.cde.ca.gov/nr/re/ht/bcrc.asp. Accessed July 11, 2010. Grose, Thomas K. 2006. Booting Up. ASEE Prism 16(1) September. Available online at http://www.prism-magazine.org/sept06/feature_tetc.cfm Hedden, Carole R. 2008. A&D workforce in depth: Aviation Week workforce study results. Aviation Week and Space Technology. August 18, 2008. p.72. Hosek, J., and T. Galama. 2008. U.S Competitiveness in Science and Technology. Santa Monica, California: RAND Corporation. Johnson, N., P. Oliff, and J. Koulish. 2009. Most States are Cuting Education. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Updated February 10, 2009. Available online at www.cbpp.org/12-17-08sfp.htm Johnson, N., P. Oliff, and J. Koulish. 2010. An Update on State Budget Cuts: At least 45 States Have Imposed Cuts that Hurt Vulnerable Residents and the Economy. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Updated May 25, 2010. Available online at www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=1214. Lohr, S. 2009. New trends for college graduates. New York Times. April 12, 2009. Martin, M.O., I.V.S. Mullis, E.J. Gonzales, K.D. Gregory, T.A. Smith, S.J. Chrostowski, R.A. Garden, and K.M. O’Connor. 2000. TIMSS 1999 International Science Report: Findings from IEA’s Repeat of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study at the Eighth Grade. Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts: Boston College. Available online at http://timss.bc.edu/timss1999i/science_achievement_report.html. Martin, M.O, I.V.S Mullis, and P. Foy. 2008. TIMSS 2007 International Science Report. Findings from IEA’s Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study at the Fourth and Eight Grades. Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts: IEA TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center.http://timss.bc.edu/TIMSS2007/sciencereport.html. Mellado, Ray, and John Yochelson. 2006. The Fork in the Road. Great Minds in STEM website, September 28, 2006. Los Angeles, California: Great Minds in STEM. Available online at http://www.greatmindsinstem.org. Mervis, Jeffrey. 2008. Top Ph.D. feeder schools are now Chinese. Science 321, 185. Mullis, I.V.S., M.O. Martin, E.J. Gonzales, K.D. Gregory, T.A. Smith, S.J. Chrostowski, R.A. Garden, and K.M. O’Connor. 2000. TIMSS 1999 International Mathematics Report: Findings from IEA’s Repeat of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study at the Eighth Grade. Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts: Boston College. Available online at http://timss.bc.edu/timss1999i/math_achievement_report.html. Mullis, I.V.S., M.O. Martin, and P. Foy. 2008. TIMSS 2007 International Mathematics Report. Findings from IEA’s Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study at the Fourth and Eight Grades. Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts: IEA TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center. http://timss.bc.edu/TIMSS2007/mathreport.html NAE (National Academy of Engineering). 2004. The Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New Century. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press. NAE 2005. Educating the Engineer of 2020: Adapting Engineering Education to the New Century. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press. NAS, NAE, IOM. 2007. Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future. Committee on Prospering in the Global Economy of the 21st Century, Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy, The National Academies.
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Examination of the U.S.Air Force’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce Needs in the Future and its Strategy to Meet Those Needs Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press. Available online at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11463. NCES (National Center for Education). 2008. The Condition of Education 2008. Report No. NCES 2008–031. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education 2008 Statistics. NRC (National Research Council). 2006. Issues Affecting the Future of the U.S. Space Science and Engineering Workforce: Interim Report. Committee on Meeting the Workforce Needs for the National Vision for Space Exploration. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press. Available online at http://www.nap.edu/catalog/11642.html NSB (National Science Board). 2008. Science and Engineering Indicators 2008. 2 volumes (volume 1, NSB 08-01; volume 2, NSB 08-01A). Arlington, Virginia: National Science Foundation. Wells, B.H., H.A. Sanchez, and J.M. Attridge. 2008. Modeling Student Interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Waltham, Massachusetts: Business-Higher Education Forum and Raytheon Company. Available online at http://www.bhef.com/publications/documents/raytheon_paper.pdf.