Utahns by nature are innovative and resourceful, traits long evidenced by a robust STEM industry in our state. The Weber School District is committed to encouraging and promoting STEM-based opportunities to align educational goals with workforce needs to ensure economic growth and prosperity. Recently, WSD kicked off its annual STEM Expo along with the Davis and Morgan School Districts. Nearly 800 students convened on the Davis Conference Center in Layton to learn and explore the endless possibilities of a career in science and technology.
The convention hall was filled with 50 employer, military, and academic booths, there for the sole purpose of allowing teachers and students to explore the many opportunities that education in science, technology, engineering, and math can afford them. Unlike a job fair, the STEM Expo is a chance for students to become acquainted with career paths and the educational requirements associated with their field of interest.
Mr. Alan Hall, Chairman of Prosperity 2020, spoke to students about the thousands of STEM-related jobs that will be available to them upon graduation. He stated that in order to fulfill the demands of the workforce of the future, high school graduation rates in Utah need to jump from the current 80 percent rate to at least 90 percent. He noted that technical programs are often over looked by scientifically-minded students because of the misconceived notion that these are "blue collar" and therefore, low-paying jobs. Mr. Hall used the analogy of a pyramid to defray this notion. He emphasized the fact that employees who are technically certified are the ones who actually "put on the nuts and bolts and do the welding and build the technology." He explained that there were high-paying jobs and wonderful opportunities up and down the pyramid.
Science Curriculum Specialist Matthew Patterson's goal for the Expo was that students leave with an understanding of the many meaningful and important jobs that exist; jobs that enable students to make a difference in the world while also providing satisfying and lucrative career choices. Many students were able to make these connections and came away with a better understanding of how to align their educational resources with their career interests.