The mission of the West Point Center for STEM Education is to design and implement programs that inspire, attract, and develop the STEM talent essential for meeting the Nation’s current and future challenges.
The West Point Center for STEM Education aspires to be a national leader in enhancing STEM education and inspiring young people to pursue STEM careers.
The goals of the West Point Center for STEM Education are to:
Design, implement, and assess high-quality national, regional, and local outreach projects that:
Facilitate and conduct cadet and faculty research on K-12 and undergraduate STEM education.
Develop and maintain strategic partnerships with the Army Educational Outreach Program, the National Defense Education Program, and the National Science Center.
- Inform K-12 students about the role of STEM in our world.
- Inspire K-12 students to pursue STEM careers.
- Prepare K-12 students’ to study STEM at the college level.
- Support West Point Admissions through STEM outreach.
Many of the world’s greatest challenges involve science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Yet there is compelling evidence that the U.S. is falling behind other countries in developing the STEM talent needed to address these challenges—in the workforce, in research, and in academia.
America’s longstanding global leadership in STEM is diminishing. For example, in 1970 the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development found that the U.S had the highest high school graduation rate of 23 nations. By 2007, the U.S. graduation rate of 78 percent ranked 18th of 25 nations. On tests of math and science, U.S. 4th graders generally score well against international competition; however, by the 12th grade, they consistently fall near the bottom or dead last.
Other countries are also surpassing the U.S. in the development of their STEM workforces. In 1985, China granted about the same number of first engineering degrees as the U.S., but granted nearly four times as many in 2005. As a result of this enhanced capacity, China is experiencing an explosion of economic and technological development.
Rising above the Gathering Storm, a report published by the National Academies Committee on Prospering in the Global Economy of the 21st Century, summarizes the problem as follows: “Having reviewed trends in the United States and abroad, the committee is deeply concerned that the scientific and technological building blocks critical to our economic leadership are eroding at a time when many other nations are gathering strength.”
How can we meet this challenge? According to Rising above the Gathering Storm, “This nation must prepare with great urgency to preserve its strategic and economic security. … The United States must compete by optimizing its knowledge-based resources, particularly in science and technology.”
Recognizing the national security implications of this challenge, the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Army are responding to the critical need for improved STEM education. Empowered by Title 10 of the U.S. Code (§ 2192), the National Defense Education Program (NDEP) and the Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP) have been established to promote the development of the nation’s future STEM workforce. The West Point Center for STEM Education (CSE) is part of this effort.
Why West Point
Why would the United States Military Academy at West Point be involved in enhancing STEM education?
The nation’s worsening shortfall in STEM talent has clear national security implications. Technological development enhances both economic and military strength. As an educational institution that exists to serve the national defense, West Point is uniquely positioned to assist the Department of Defense in meeting this challenge.
West Point has a long and proud tradition of STEM education. Indeed, the Academy is the oldest institution in the U.S. to offer formal academic instruction in engineering.
West Point is already a national leader in undergraduate STEM education. Our faculty members have expertise in all of the STEM disciplines, in teaching and learning theory and practice, and in academic assessment.
STEM outreach is also an important tool for enhancing West Point Admissions. And by enhancing the motivation and abilities of incoming cadets to study STEM, we can ultimately enhance the STEM proficiency of the Army Officer Corps.