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How Top Companies Are Improving STEM Education

Companies Spur Innovation By Investing in Local STEM Education

You’ve probably heard about the “STEM Skills Gap” – concerns that millions of new manufacturing jobs in the next decade may go unfilled due to lack of qualified applicants.

You may not have heard how top Silicon Valley companies are taking the lead in addressing this problem. Companies such as Amazon (Lab 126), Google, Genentech, Cisco, Lockheed Martin, Synopsys, and Oculus (Facebook) are bringing teachers into their workplaces so those same teachers can take relevant learning straight back to their classrooms where students can benefit now.

“Is it time for businesses to take responsibility for the digital skills gap?” asks ComputerworldUK. As leaders in American innovation, the Bay Area’s top companies aren’t waiting for governments to update school curricula to boost science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning.

These firms are leading the charge by investing in local teachers, giving them hands-on industry workplace experiences to transform STEM learning in area schools. It’s not just the teachers, schools, and students who benefit.

“One thing we hear all the time is that hosts are surprised because they expected the teachers to be more like college interns,” says Shari Liss, CEO of the Bay Area nonprofit Ignited that puts teachers to work in top companies. “These are not interns. Teachers are experienced professionals who bring years or even decades of work experience to these roles, and are incredibly skilled at learning new things and delivering on objectives.”

The Ignited Summer Fellowship Program is an important step of transforming STEM education.

“Our Teacher Fellow was a valued member of our team and contributed every day to our success as a company over the summer,” says Dave Finn, project executive at Blach Construction who mentored a Teacher Fellow on a 2016 project managing renovation of a school.

Ignited is a Silicon Valley nonprofit transforming STEM education to equip students with 21st-century skills.

Ari Vogel, a senior manager at Lockheed Martin, said he was surprised how quickly the teacher he mentored “integrated into our team” and “proactively took on assignments.” “The diversity of the Fellow’s thoughts and ideas greatly contributed to the success of our project, and his insights into creatively teaching STEM motivated me to attempt exciting experiments with my son,” Vogel said.

Ignited provides teachers with summer fellowships at top companies and universities so they can inspire and prepare students to become the next generation of innovators. Founded in 1985 as Industry Initiatives for Science and Math Education, the organization has awarded 3,704 fellowships to teachers from kindergarten through college level in 743 schools, impacting more than 3 million students.

Exposing STEM educators to the real applications of the material they teach so they can bring that experience back to their classrooms is a “noble mission,” Vogel says, “because it will ensure America continues to thrive.”


For more information contact: Jennifer Thomas – – 239-288-7483

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