Where in the world do you think of when you think of STEM skills? For many, the sights and sounds of Silicon Valley, California come to mind – the idea of expansive campuses tends to capture the imagination of exuberant cinemagoers.
What you may not realize, however, is that Detroit, deep in the heart of America’s Midwest, is rapidly emerging as a beating heart of technological innovation, east of the Mississippi River. As the city transforms from its automotive roots and embraces technology, students, such as those who complete an online MBA in Michigan, are exposed to a range of job opportunities in fields as diverse as biotechnology, manufacturing, and beyond.
Let’s explore how Michigan’s investment in STEM programs is helping Detroit emerge as a new and inclusive hub for innovative research and technological advancement, and how it is embracing the next generation of engineers to ride towards tomorrow’s technological future.
Why is STEM Important?
STEM is an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics – introduced by the National Science Federation in 2001, it referred to a curriculum where these subjects were becoming increasingly interrelated and connected. Further research in the years following identified that STEM skills were becoming crucial in the workforce, particularly as companies were becoming increasingly digital and online-focused.
This transformed the education sector in a few respects. Rather than a broad focus on a range of arts and humanities subjects, instead, teachers looked to embed the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics into every classroom.
In today’s world, having STEM skills empowers the graduates of today to generate new and exciting innovations in the world of automation, manufacturing, information technology, and beyond. Having the ability to harness problem-solving skills in STEM is no longer an idea restrained to the classroom – for many who work in tech-heavy roles, it’s a way of life.
The Importance of R&D
Deploying STEM skills in the workforce can be particularly advantageous. Take, for example, the rise of social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn in the 2000s – having a workforce of highly tech-literate employees allowed for the rapid innovation necessary to fuel a nascent industry. Facebook, in particular, has managed to stay relevant for nearly two decades as competing platforms such as Twitter, Snapchat, and TikTok have risen and fallen around them. In part, this has been due to an ongoing drive to recruit STEM-skilled graduates.
Investment into research and development, more commonly known as R&D, can be a way for workforces to harness their STEM skills in a way that drives further innovation within a business. If there are areas where there are substantial numbers of STEM graduates, companies may be motivated to move to regions where there is substantial and sustained investment.
One such example of this has been Michigan’s STEM Forward initiative – by partnering with universities and other organizations, Michigan has been able to create a pipeline of new talent. That, in turn, has attracted the interest of organizations that are looking to harness crucial STEM skills to drive investment opportunities within their businesses, such as Scout Motors – an automotive firm that hopes to leverage the knowledge of STEM graduates to drive innovation in EV battery design within the automotive sector.
Job Opportunities in STEM
For many, a qualification in STEM can empower you to pursue a range of job opportunities that are in high demand, including roles tied to its historic automotive roots. For companies going through a historic change in how vehicles are designed and manufactured, Ford and General Motors are examples of just two companies looking to make significant investments within Michigan, with Ford recently announcing a multi-billion dollar investment to support the transition to electric vehicle manufacturing.
Michigan, in particular, provides a range of opportunities for students within STEM fields to gain exposure to a range of roles, whether you’re a student or a recent graduate. STEM Forward offers an internship program, where eligible candidates can gain valuable knowledge through an internship with a registered Michigan-based company. This can allow students to gain exposure to potential careers before committing to a permanent role down the track.
For those looking for a well-paid role, careers in STEM are well-remunerated – with a recent research piece by the National Science Foundation finding that STEM graduates typically earned a median salary of more than 60% more than peers who had pursued non-STEM roles.
If you’re looking to leap into a new career, a STEM career in Michigan provides a range of opportunities for growth and development. From support in landing relevant internships and graduate roles, right through to connections to national brands that are actively investing in the future of America, Michigan looks set to cement a reputation as the Silicon Valley of the Midwest in the years to come.