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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is trying to encourage veterans, children of active-duty service members and others to pursue education and careers in science, technology, engineering and math, in the face of looming shortages of such professionals.
Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, the Corps’ commander, said those four fields, commonly referred to as STEM, have more jobs than trained professionals to fill them, and the gap will only grow wider in coming years.
“There are many opportunities in the STEM arena ... not only for college graduates — we need a million more by 2020 — but in other STEM-related fields, where an associate’s degree, or even a focus on it at some level of technical proficiency” would suffice, Bostick said.
The Corps is taking on service-injured veterans as interns, and Bostick told reporters in a conference call that he has seen them finish their internships and land careers in related fields.
More than just a job opportunity for service members, the fields also represent an area of critical need for the country. Only 14 countries worldwide produce a smaller percentage of engineers than does the U.S., and only four college graduates out of 100 become engineers in this country, putting the U.S. well behind Russia and China, Bostick said.
“There is an opportunity out there to serve the nation in another career capacity that involves STEM,” he said.
The Corps also recently partnered with the Department of Defense Education Activity to incorporate more STEM education into the curriculum taught to the children of active-duty service members.