Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley holds live video chat with UMUC students and faculty to discuss goals to increase STEM graduates
In a live video chat with Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, University of Maryland University College students, faculty and administrators focused attention on the governor’s goal of increasing the number of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) graduates from the state’s colleges and universities.
The governor hosted the chat from a conference room in his office in Annapolis, while UMUC’s contingent participated from its Academic Center in Largo. A group of students from the University of Maryland Baltimore County’s Center for Women in Technology also joined from UMBC’s campus in Catonsville.
UMUC Provost Marie Cini highlighted the university’s growing role in helping reach the governor’s goal. More than 6,000 students are enrolled in the university’s cybersecurity undergraduate and graduate programs, said Cini, and are already graduating nearly 2,000 students with degrees in the in-demand STEM field.
The governor was especially interested in what motivated students to go into STEM degree programs. John Arneson, an undergraduate student in the cybersecurity program at UMUC, spoke passionately about his journey from working at a movie theatre and earning a degree from Anne Arundel Community College to attending UMUC and joining the university’s cyber competition teams, the Cyber Padawans.
Arneson credits his participation on the Cyber Padawans and the experience of dealing with real-world security challenges in competition with helping him land a job with Cisco.
Kenny Wallace, another undergraduate student at UMUC, recently separated from the military but took classes online while on active duty. He knew he wanted to enter a STEM-related field early on. “I have been using computers since I was nine years old and became passionate as I entered high school,” said Wallace, who also is a member of the Cyber Padawans.
In September 2008, Governor O’Malley created the Governor’s STEM Task Force to make recommendations aimed at establishing Maryland as a global leader in the development of its future workforce and its STEM-based research and economic development infrastructure.
One of the recommendations of the Task Force was to increase the number of STEM college graduates in Maryland by 40 percent by the year 2015. O’Malley embraced that recommendation and emphasized the importance of STEM graduates in “improving the skills of our people, the sustainability of our way of life, and the health and security of all Marylanders.”
The state is well on its way in meeting the goal. “Today, thanks to your hard work, we are now at a 37 percent increase of STEM degrees produced in Maryland,” said O’Malley. “If we can keep driving this, we will exceed that goal.”
Maryland was the first state in the nation to set specific STEM education standards that tell teachers not just what STEM is, but how to teach the subjects. A STEM education is critical to ensuring that students can compete for and obtain jobs in Maryland where there is a growing demand for skilled workers to fill federal research laboratories and cybersecurity jobs.
“Ensuring that our students are prepared to compete in the economy of tomorrow is an important part of strengthening STEM education in Maryland,” said Governor O’Malley. “STEM programs offer our students the opportunity to broaden their skills, learn about new, cutting edge technology, and compete for jobs in fields such as technology, cybersecurity, and advanced manufacturing. Together, we will continue to provide our students with access to a high-quality education to ensure economic opportunity and strengthen and grow our middle class.”