If you hear something again and again, does that make it true? And if it’s not something you want to hear, could it lead to becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy? In my role at the Arizona Technology Council, I regularly meet with people in the science and technology communities to hear about the issues they face. Over the years, more than once the topic of talent has come up.
Some know when they are children which career path to follow. Some figure out as adults where they really want to go. No matter when it happens, more Arizonans are deciding that a career in a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) is best for them. That is a prime reason the Arizona Technology Council focuses on efforts and partnerships that can help people connect the dots for productive careers that ultimately fuel the Arizona economy.
Sunshine isn’t all that’s plentiful in Arizona. The state’s unmatched and robust talent pool has attracted companies from around the world. With a workforce exceeding 3.6 million and a population of more than 7 million, Arizona promises to continue setting the national standard for workforce excellence. Key to developing Arizona’s deep talent pool are the state’s high-quality community colleges. Gov. Doug Ducey has called them the “secret sauce” that helps drive Arizona’s
The workplace of the future will increasingly focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs in the life sciences, physical and Earth sciences, engineering and architecture, computer science and math as well as healthcare. But students from underrepresented minority (URM) populations in STEM disciplines often encounter systemic racism, discrimination and bias, which disrupts their pathways to earning higher degrees. Even as the demand for educated workers in STEM fields grows—and with it, earnings potential—experts believe there is little indication that diversity in STEM-related programs will shift any time soon unless major efforts are made to encourage URM students to enroll in these programs and earn degrees at all levels.
“This experience is a dream come true for many talented young people. They get to advance their education while building something of societal value alongside like-minded peers and professionals,” says Mark Naufel, executive director of Luminosity Lab, a student-driven, research and development program in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. Established in 2016 with just 15 students, the group has quadrupled in size at ASU and launched partner programs with other colleges and universities both domestically and abroad. Teams of Luminosity students have demonstrated the brilliance of this model by winning global innovation competitions such as the Red Bull Basement program and the X-Prize Next-Gen Mask Challenge.
The University of Arizona is leading the way in building a diverse and talented workforce. In its effort, UArizona welcomed the largest and most diverse incoming class in its history, with approximately 8,900 first-year students starting classes this fall. This year’s class also sets a university record for diversity, with 47% of first-year students self-identifying with ethnicities other than white. That’s up from 45% last year.
From an automated smart visor to a game mechanic based on color theory, the recent Student Innovation Projects (SIP) Showcase at the University of Advancing Technology in Tempe was nothing short of amazing. The SIP Showcase is held at the end of each semester for students to present their innovations to faculty, staff and the community.
Helios Scholars at TGen, the flagship internship program at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), part of City of Hope, recently celebrated a summer of science by showcasing their work at a daylong scientific symposium. Designed for incoming and continuing undergraduate, graduate, and medical school students, Helios Scholars at TGen offers a one-of-a-kind summer experience in biomedical research under the guidance of an experienced TGen mentor.