2019’s Best & Worst Metro Areas for STEM Professionals

Melanie ShepherdMaking the Grade: Utah works to improve its marks in STEM education Utah Business May 8, 2018News

STEM workers are in fierce demand, and not just in the global epicenter of high tech known as Silicon Valley. According to the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics analysis, STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — professions grew at over twice the rate that non-STEM jobs did between 2009 and 2015. Most types of STEM jobs will also expand faster than all other occupations until 2024.

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We Heart STEM Day on the Hill

Katherine KireievSTEM in Utah, STEM Industry, STEM Partners, STEM Team

Each year, the Utah STEM Action Center hosts STEM Day on the Hill to celebrate STEM happenings and opportunities across the state.

Our fun and interactive event includes exhibits from students, industry and various community partners who are helping spread the STEM love statewide. Part celebration and part exhibition, this is our time to show local leaders how important STEM is to our state’s overall success!

This year, we’re all about sharing the STEM love!

STEM ‘Love’ Day on the Hill
Where: Utah State Capitol Rotunda
When: February 6, 2019, from 7:30-9:30 a.m.
What: Interact with STEMpassioned community partners
Why: Learn why the Beehive State is abuzz about STEM

For more information, contact Katherine Kireiev: (801)538-8747

Utah STEM Scene Surges to Top 5 Spot

Katherine KireievSTEM in Utah, STEM Industry

The 2018 Milken Technology and Science Index report was released last month—and the survey shows there’s plenty of buzz about the Beehive State. Utah surged to No. 5, improving its ranking from eighth place in 2016.

The report rates states’ performance in three categories: high-tech innovation, education and investment.

The state’s impressive ranking is mainly due to increased jobs in the high-tech sector and the number of university science and technology graduates.

Val Hale, executive director of Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, credits the state’s universities and Silicon Slopes’ tech boom for those high numbers.

“Were it not for our universities, our economy would not be where it is now,” Hale said. “When people ask me why our economy is doing well, I point to Utah’s universities.”

The index looks at five different areas to rank U.S. states including research and development inputs, capital and entrepreneurial infrastructure, human capital investment, technology and science workforce, and technology concentration and dynamism.

“We’re excited to see Utah recognized as a leader in STEM talent development. The Utah STEM Action Center represents an investment by the state to continue to build student interest and success in STEM-related education and careers,” said Tamara Goetz, STEM Action Center executive director.

The Milken Technology and Science Index draws on data from government and private sources dating from 2015 to 2017, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Science Foundation, the Small Business Administration, the American Community Survey and Moody’s Analytics.
The entire index can be viewed on the Milken Institute’s website.

Altamont’s Sydney Nielson Scores CenturyLink STEM Excellence Award

Katherine KireievSTEM Awards, STEM in Utah

Altamont High School 8th grader and CenturyLink STEM Excellence honoree Sydney Nielson (above, center) is as much a STEM star as she is a stellar scholar and student mentor. A straight-A student her entire academic career, Sydney is exceptional in many areas, but her passion for STEM truly stands out—especially against the backdrop of her small, rural community. Sydney was celebrated in full-court NBA style at this week’s Utah Jazz game against the Miami Heat.

Home to about 250 people, Altamont is a tiny Utah town with huge heart at the center of a ranching and farming region with a collective population of around 2,000. Considering that several Utah high schools are home to more than 2,000 students, Sydney’s accomplishments in the areas of computer science and robotics would seem to serve as exceptions to rule. In truth, Sydney’s dedication and involvement in STEM have helped advance Altamont’s schools to the leading edge of VEX robotics.  

“I do robotics to show other people that they can do anything no matter who they are,” Sydney said. “I also love the competition and seeing the robot work like it is supposed to.”

When Sydney was in fourth grade, the middle school robotics team was in dire need of someone who could lead a research project.  She didn’t hesitate in stepping up to the challenge, completing the project while surpassing expectations. As a fourth grader, she traveled and competed with the middle school team.

From that point on, Sydney was set on STEM.

In the summer before her fifth grade year, she competed in the Google MoonBots program. She won a VEX IQ set as part of the competition, starting her on the VEX robotics path. In fifth grade, she led her school’s VEX IQ team, and their robot went on to sweep multiple tournaments that year, moving on to the State VEX IQ Compeition. Seven awards were offered; Sydney’s team claimed four, including the top-honor VEX IQ Excellence Award—sending them to compete in the VEX IQ Worlds competition.

Her sixth and seventh grade years brought the same sweeping success and showings at the VEX IQ Worlds competition; her seventh grade VEX IQ robot and engineering notebook won the design challenge at state, one of very few robots scoring in every possible category. During her seventh grade year, Sydney also competed on her high school’s inaugural VEX robotics team. Her skills and experience steered the development and design of the team’s engineering notebook to success, with the Altamont High School team advancing to the state’s VEX Robotics Championship in their debut year.

Sydney’s current team has the highest robot skills score in the state, and her robot is the product of advanced design techniques she learned through hands-on STEM over the previous four years. Sydney codes in RobotC language, and is excited to be learning C++.

And it doesn’t end with VEX for Sydney, who has served leadership roles in STEM summer camps, helping other students succeed in robotics. “I just do what I love,” Sydney added. “I think that’s the key to life.”

Congratulations, Sydney, on your many wins—here’s to your continued STEM success!