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November 3, 2021

What does STEM Day Mean for Construction

STEM day is November 8th. 

I case you have been living in a cave (???? no offense), STEM refers to a specific type of curriculum based on four distinct disciplines:

  1. Science 
  2. Technology
  3. Engineering
  4. Mathematics

Science is everywhere in the world around us. Technology is continuously expanding into every aspect of our lives. Engineering is the basic building block that constructs our modern society and all three of these disciplines are rooted in mathematics.

At its core, STEM is all about solving problems and training the next generation of problem solvers. Many feel that our current education is focused too heavily on rote learning and memorization and is failing to teach students how to think for themselves or even solve some of the simplest problems that they might run into.  With the way most fields are changing, especially the construction field, we can't always rely on tried-and-true solutions to problems that arise. Those solutions don't always work anymore.

A STEM education turns you into a problem solver. It gives you the ability to see problems as something that can be solved rather than placing blame and shirking responsibility. You can see why STEM matters for the future of construction!

STEM Gains Momentum

Going back to the early 2000s, studies revealed that U.S. students were not achieving in the STEM disciplines at the same rate as students in other countries.  We recognized that the US could not compete in the future global economy strongly as the result of a poorly prepared workforce. Educators began to focus on science, math, and technology.

A 2006 study later confirmed the fear,  a fairly large proportion of students underperformed in these subjects and the US ranked near the bottom on assessments of scientific competency and knowledge compared to other first world countries. The bipartisan congressional STEM Education Caucus noted: “Our knowledge-based economy is driven by constant innovation. The foundation of innovation lies in a dynamic, motivated and well-educated workforce equipped with STEM skills.”

The findings from several additional studies on educational practices encouraged U.S. state governors to seek methods to lead their states toward the goal of graduating every student from high school with essential STEM knowledge and competencies to succeed in postsecondary education and work. 

The importance of STEM has now been proven. Growth in America’s STEM jobs in the first decade of the 21st century tripled the rate of growth in non-STEM jobs.  However, racial and gender gaps remain a problem and employers continued to struggle with the need for qualified STEM workers

STEM and the Future Workforce 

There is a growing momentum. If you take a moment to Google STEM and Education, you will quickly find too many articles to count that discuss the importance of STEM and the investments the government and education system (at all levels) is putting to increase STEM education.

In December 2018, the White House announced a 5-Year STEM Education Strategic Plan that extended and enhanced a previous plan to advance education across the country, especially in underserved areas. The goal of the STEM plan is to ensure that all American youth have access to a strong foundational STEM education, so that America continues to be a leader in innovation and employment.

According to the National Science Foundation, “In the 21st century, scientific and technological innovations have become increasingly important as we face the benefits and challenges of both globalization and a knowledge-based economy. To succeed in this new information-based and highly technological society, students need to develop their capabilities in STEM to levels much beyond what was considered acceptable in the past.”

STEM and Construction

Construction has moved way beyond being just a collection of manual tasks. For years, technology has been changing the daily work experience in the building trades. Universities and colleges are developing high-tech programs for construction trades, blending computer and laser technology into the curriculum for the next generation of contractors and trades. The growing emphasis on STEM has had a major impact on many industries, as these students move into the world of work. With this growth comes a need for improved and expanded facilities

Investment in STEM

Saint Louis University has invested $78.8 million to enhance STEM facilities as it continues to see a surge in students pursuing science, engineering, math, and health science degrees. A new $50 million Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building opened in 2020.

The Office of the University Provost at ASU recently recognized the science, technology, engineering and math education that has been steadily integrated into the construction management program over the years by approving its reclassification from a business management program to a STEM program — formally a construction engineering technology/technician classification..

Skanska, one of the nation's largest contractors has directly invested in the next generation having better access to STEM.

  • Four of their projects in North Carolina are hosting students from NC State’s BIM in Construction course. Students tour  projects, learn the scheduling process and create weekly 4D sequences of structural steel and MEP systems. 
  • ACE Mentorship – This is a nationwide, free after-school program for high school students who want to learn more about careers in the ACE industry and STEM skills. Students are mentored by successful architects, construction managers and engineers from the industry who meet as a team twice a month during the school year. Skanska provides professionals as volunteers to mentor individual ACE students. 
  • Day of Discovery  is a Skanska program that introduces younger generations to careers in architecture, engineering and construction (ACE). The goal is to show youth, especially girls who are underrepresented in the construction industry, new career path options.  

In construction, STEM workers have particular talents for thinking outside of the box. They provide advanced problem-solving capabilities and innovative approaches to using technology that other workers may never consider. Having STEM educated professionals equips construction organizations with team members that are logical and organized in how they think and approach challenges. These kinds of employees can help a construction company make technological leaps or just perform better, generally.

Excelling in construction management today requires knowledge of an extensively and rapidly expanding set of new tools.

Why DigiBuild?

DigiBuild is a blockchain-enabled construction project management platform. Our customers manage workflows such as procurement, budgets, schedules, contracts, and payments. DigiBuild allows for collaboration across 50+ disparate construction stakeholders – all on a single platform. 

We are the first to merge our construction management expertise with blockchain technology to create the world’s most revolutionary technology bringing risk management and visibility to your projects.

Through verifiable collaboration, we eliminate risk, disputes, save time and create a healthier and happier global construction industry.

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