New coalition studies future of STEM degrees in South Carolina - FOX Carolina 21

New coalition studies future of STEM degrees in South Carolina

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FOX Carolina/Sept 25, 2017 FOX Carolina/Sept 25, 2017
CLEMSON, SC (FOX Carolina) -

There is a growing need in the Upstate for workers in the STEM career field, specifically engineers.  And now a new coalition is forming, as researchers look at why some college students in South Carolina aren’t prepared for the engineering degree coursework.

Researchers gathered Monday at Clemson University to announce their new study.  They tell us the need for engineers in the state is great, and with an aging workforce, more positions will need to be filled.  But they’re finding that calculus can be a hurdle for some of those students.  They’re not prepared for the coursework, and sometimes drop out.

Dr. Eliza Gallagher is an Assistant Professor at Clemson University and explained how calculus is a hurdle for some engineering major students. 

“What winds up happening is a lot of students who are interested in these fields end up on college campuses and they are placed below calculus, and that is actually the single biggest predictor of whether you'll finish your STEM degree, is whether you start in calculus or below calculus.”

Clay Roberson is an engineering teacher at Carolina High School and Academy in Greenville, he believes the key is to expose the students to engineering principles early. 

“I believe if you take the engineering concept and push it down through middle school and elementary school and take the math and get some accelerated math going on, that will help a lot.”

The Clemson researchers tell us it will be a few more years before results are in, but for now they are gathering data and will eventually design a way to intervene earlier in a student's education, so they can be successful and complete a degree in a STEM field.

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