Fort Worth Independent School District and Lockheed Martin announced an ongoing initiative to fund science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs for every school in the district.
Thanks to a $1 million grant, Lockheed Martin is bringing Project Lead the Way to Fort Worth students.
According to a press release, Project Lead the Way is a nonprofit that develops STEM programs for kindergarten through 12th grade students. Currently, 8,000 elementary, middle and high schools across the U.S. have Project Lead the Way programs.
Five schools in Fort Worth ISD already have these programs in place. This donation will bring Project Lead the Way to 33 more schools.
These programs have a positive effect. Project Lead the Way says students who participate in their programs are three to six times more likely to major in a STEM field.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, there will be a 16 percent increase in the number of mathematics jobs by 2020. The department also predicts a 22 percent increase in the number of computer analysis jobs, a 32 percent increase in the number of software development jobs, a 36 percent increase in the number of medical jobs and a 62 percent increase in the number of biomedical engineering jobs.
“There are a shortage of engineers. It’s a very challenging environment, not just for Lockheed Martin but for every company that looks for engineers,” Ken Ross, a spokesman for Lockheed Martin said. “So what better than to find people that are right here in our background who have a passion for this kind of work and a passion to stay in this area in the great city of Fort Worth.”
According to Business Insider, STEM majors, on average, earn $65,000, while non-STEM majors earned about $49,500.
The U.S. Department of Commerce expects STEM related jobs to grow 17 percent by 2018. Fort Worth ISD is making sure students are ready to fill those positions.
“I’m not interested in asking students what kind of jobs they want to do. I want to know what problems they’re going to solve,” Kent Scribner, Fort Worth ISD incoming superintendent said. “Because the world of innovations is moving so quickly, and that’s why investments like these from Lockheed Martin into our schools are going to help our teachers be more innovative and prepare students for jobs that don’t exist today.”
Scribner said he has big plans for Fort Worth ISD following the expansion of this program. He said one of his major initiatives is to not only prepare students for academic work that’s rigorous, but academic work that’s relevant.
“We need to take public dollars and private dollars and really recognize that investing in students today has an outcome decades into the future,” Scribner said.