Rice Empower Helping More Minority Students Envision Careers in STEM Fields

Students conduct experiments at the Rice STEM Expo. (Photo courtesy of Rice University)

About 150 students from four HISD campuses, including North Houston Early College, Sharpstown, and Wheatley high schools, got a glimpse into both college life and the careers that may await them after completing it when they took part in Rice University’s Empower STEM Expo earlier this month.

That event, along with the Empower Dialogue (in which science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professionals visit a campus to talk with students about their careers) is designed to expose more young people to the possibility of jobs in STEM-related fields.

(Source: OnlineUniversities.com)

“One of the key issues across the U.S. is that students are just not interested in math and science,” said Williams Middle School science teacher Amit Suneja, in an article about the event on the Rice website. “Many of them view these subjects as a jumble of numbers and concepts that don’t apply to them…but a larger and larger percentage of the highest paying jobs are in STEM-related fields, and according to one often-cited statistic (click the graphic at right to view full-size), almost 70 percent of all scientists and engineers are white or Asian, even though minorities make up more than a third of the population.”

Suneja, a 2011 Rice graduate himself, said that one of the best aspects of the STEM Expo is that it encourages students to start building process-based skills.

“Global development is centered around the STEM fields now,” he said, “and interdisciplinary forms of employment are becoming the norm. Your value as an employee skyrockets if you can show a problem-solving ability, which all of these require.”

The STEM Expo is sponsored by Schlumberger. Additional details can be found from the university’s newspaper, the Rice Thresher.