Education Celebrations: District offers focus in science, math, related fields

Education is filled with acronyms, and STEM is one of them.

STEM stands for "science, technology, engineering and math," and it is the focus of a weeklong event across the state to promote students moving into fields related to STEM.

In 2009, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics issued occupational employment projections to 2018. The report said: "The U.S. will have more than 1.2 million job openings in science, technology, engineering and math-related occupations by 2018. These include scientists, doctors, software developers and engineers. Yet, there will be a significant shortage of qualified college graduates to fill these careers."

In Victoria ISD, we are fortunate to have foundations in place that are helping our students become productive members of the workforce. Under the new graduation plans, we are able to offer endorsements in both STEM and in a business and industry career path. All five of our endorsement plans will offer students the educational foundations to continue for a four-year or two-year degree in college, move into a technical school or immediately enter the workforce.

We are also fortunate to have very strong support in VISD from industries. For more than a year, representatives of industry have been coming together to help develop the curriculum for innovative courses in process technology and instrumentation that will help to prepare our students for well-paying, stable and in-demand jobs locally.

Industry supports our students through providing members of advisory groups, sponsoring events like the Dream Big STEM Expo and visiting campuses for career exploration programs. We view local employers as an invaluable partner in preparing our students for the future.

Invista is moving ahead with plans to offer our students financial support to help offset the dual credit fee for the introduction to process technology course. The company is looking to create job shadowing opportunities for students pursuing careers in engineering and offering tours of the facility to help students in the process technology fields develop an understanding of how a chemical plant operates and how each job function fits into the overall picture.

"Invista is excited to work with VISD and provide students with the opportunity to explore the variety of industrial careers that are available," said Paul Hughes, Invista site manager. "Whether it is a four-year or two-year degree career path, there is tremendous career potential for motivated students who want to take advantage of the educational opportunities available to them. Invista salutes VISD for championing STEM careers that support our industrial employers in South Texas."

With multiple career paths available to students and exceptional teachers leading the classes, Victoria ISD is proud to be a part of meeting the future needs of a growing economy. With the support of local industry, like Invista, Dow, Alcoa, Caterpillar, Formosa Plastics, DeTar Hospital, Citizens Medical Center and many others, our schools are able to celebrate STEM Week every week of the school year.

Diane Boyett is the communications director for Victoria school district. Con tact her at diane.boyett@visd.net.