Rising above the STEM Storm

Friday, November 11, 2022

From all of us here at S&T, to all our veterans on this Veterans Day, thank you for your dedication and for your service with honor. We recognize and appreciate your sacrifices and the sacrifices of those who love and support you.

Dedicated students, distinguished colleagues and dear friends,

Happy Friday!

“Broad STEM outreach.” – Fred Kummer

Seventeen years ago, U.S. higher education institutions were alerted by a wake-up call when the National Academies released its influential report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future. This report was emphatic in highlighting that the United States’ competitiveness in the global marketplace was at risk due to lack of broad-based STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education and research. The report called for more undergraduate and graduate science scholarships, new programs to train science teachers, and more research funding, among other initiatives. The report also pointed to the need to engage more children in STEM activities at a younger age.

Fred and June Kummer heeded the warning when they bestowed the largest gift to S&T with a key mandate of “broad STEM outreach.” Fred was emphatic about cultivating the next generation of STEM-savvy workers. A formidable mandate that is easy to visualize and imperative to actualize.

As I write this note on our National STEM Day, I am delighted to report that we have taken Fred’s mandate to heart here at S&T and have made substantial progress toward its many goals. Our efforts to date include but are not limited to STEM education “pipeline” development, science teacher education, large-scale scholarships at all levels and STEM education summer camps, among many other activities. Here are some examples:

  • Hosted by the Kummer Center for STEM Education, S&T’s in-person, on-campus STEM Day activities on Tuesday, Nov. 8, drew nearly 1,000 K-12 students. The students were mostly from small, rural districts, as well as some homeschooled students, and all experienced a range of exciting sessions. Supervised groups of up to 15 students self-guided their participation by selecting from among over 50 science experiments, including chemistry experiments, robotics, “painting with fire,” mining experiments, and experiments in virtually all disciplines of engineering and science. For many, this was their first time on a college campus. We hope to welcome them back for their college education.
  • On-campus visits, field trips and other STEM-focused activities for K-12 students, coordinated by our Kummer Center for STEM Education team. These activities include a popular event for middle school girls called Expanding Your Horizons.
  • Partnerships and programs to attract more underrepresented minority students to the STEM fields. These include our strong relationship with Black Girls Do STEM, a St. Louis-based non-profit that I wrote about previously, and Si Se Puede (Yes We Can), an annual program that brings Hispanic high school students to campus. This year’s Si Se Puede begins this evening and continues through the weekend.
  • Our popular STEM-focused summer camps, which returned in full force this past summer. We have bigger plans for the camps in 2023, with a goal of increasing the number of camps and participation by 50% – from 700-plus campers this year to 1,065 next year! We will expand from 16 camps in 2022 to 24 residential camps in 2023.
  • “Educating the educators” is another significant initiative at S&T that is answering the call of “broad STEM outreach.” Our teacher education and certification program focuses on preparing S&T students to take their STEM expertise into the elementary and secondary classrooms of Missouri and beyond. As I pointed out last month in my email about World Teachers’ Day, more than half of the nation’s school districts struggle to find STEM teachers. At S&T, we are doing our part to address this shortage.

The late Fred Kummer recognized the need and purposefully invested in and empowered our efforts in addressing the national need for STEM education. Together with all our faculty, staff and community partners, in observance of National STEM Day, we are mindful of the moment and purposeful in our efforts to rise above the STEM storm and to answer the call of the nation and Fred’s foresightful mandate.



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Mohammad Dehghani, PhD
mo@mst.edu | 573-341-4116

206 Parker Hall, 300 West 13th Street, Rolla, MO 65409-0910