African American engineers, mathematicians, and members of the science and technology community will converge on the nation’s capital in less than two weeks for the annual Becoming Everything You Are STEM Conference.
The conference includes training, mentorship opportunities, workshops, and career fairs for professionals already in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields, and also aims to entice minority students onto education tracks that lead to STEM careers.
“This conference is very important because it’s about the promotion of STEMs within the minority community,” said Imani Carter, corporate communications specialist for Career Communications Group, the company that organizes the conference each year.
The conference, now in its’ 28th year, will be held at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park from Feb. 6 to Feb. 8.
“There will be career fairs open to the public on during specific times, and career fairs that are geared towards veterans and students,” said Carter. “That’s a really huge part of the conference because people can come in network and talk with top STEM companies and try to get a job with them.”
Seminars will be held on topics including professionalism in the technology workplace, luncheons and dinners will recognize top achievers in the STEM fields, and small businesses will find helpful discussions on how to become and remain successful.
Discussions on climate change, cyber security, green businesses, social media, engineering licensure, and employee management will all be held, as well as seminars on obtaining security clearances.
“There will be a ‘Stars and Stripes’ mentoring program where people from different military services come and mentor students, and we also have a new veterans program called the veterans transition initiative where they can learn about education and business opportunities,” Carter said.
Carter said the conference will feature a host of activities for students, veterans, members of the armed forces, and those currently contributing to areas of science, technology, engineering, and math.
“There is a deficit of minorities in these fields,” said Carter. “A lot of people stray away from STEM fields because they don’t see the opportunities.”
According to Myron L. Hardiman, executive director of the Advancing Minorities’ Interests in Engineering program at Morgan State University, improving diversity in STEM fields can bring secondary benefits to minority communities.
“Hopefully, as more minorities go into these fields they are able to establish careers and they, in turn, will reach back and assist other young minorities get into those fields,” he said. “From an economic standpoint, as more minorities get better paying jobs that should have a positive economic impact on their neighborhoods.”
Hardiman said his program works to develop partnerships between corporate government agencies and historically black colleges and universities. Past participants have taken their work as far as Afghanistan, helping to rebuild the country as members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“The STEM areas really form the basis for everything that gets done from a technology and science standpoint,” Hardiman said.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, by the year 2020, jobs within system software development are expected to increase by 32 percent. Professions dealing with medical science will increase by 36 percent, while careers within computer systems analysis will increase as much as 22 percent.
Statistics released by the Department of Education show that “only 16 percent of American high school seniors are proficient in mathematics and interested in a STEM career,” but professions within the mathematics field are expected to rise by 16 percent.
Biomedical engineers stand to see the most gain within the next six years, as the Department of Education expects jobs within that field to increase by 62 percent.