Editor’s Note: Read five reasons why Kyle Martin from Florida Polytechnic believes that studying STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) prepares students for a sustainable future.
Tomorrow is full of ambiguity; Technological advancements, climate uncertainty, clean water, food shortages and a global population nearing 8 billion are all on the horizon. This begs the question: How will universities prepare the next generation of students for a sustainable future? From hands-on collaboration to cross-disciplinary curriculum, here’s how we believe STEM education is championing a sustainable tomorrow.
- Hands-On Learning
STEM majors have a balanced mix of hands-on and traditional lecture-style learning. The blend of hands-on with traditional lectures encourages students to apply classroom material to real-world scenarios. From multi-functional workstations and technology incubators to 3D printing labs (some labs even use polylactic acid, a sustainable, sugar-derived polymer sometimes used in reusable plastics like cups and cutlery), students have access to technology that empowers them to put their ideas to the test and solve the world’s most pressing challenges.
- Sustainability-focused Coursework
In addition to hands-on learning, STEM programs actively incorporate sustainability into the curriculum. At events like the Industry Partner Summit, for instance, professionals, researchers and academics collaborate to develop new course material. During these summits, discussions typically cover emerging discoveries and challenges, policy updates, and tools and tactics that can be included in sustainability course curriculum. Summits occur annually to ensure students are learning the most up-to-date, relevant knowledge, thereby ensuring they gain the proper skills to be successful in their sustainability-focused careers.
- Revamped Facilities
Today’s cutting-edge STEM classrooms create a collaborative environment where issues of global sustainability can be addressed. Classrooms that were once stuffed with desks and chalkboards are now open-concept design that facilitate group presentations and brainstorming discussions. Conference style tables and technology-equipped stations replace standard desks, fostering group projects, problem solving and teamwork. Instead of chalkboards, whiteboards and dry-erase markers fill classrooms to encourage student visualization, ideating and project road-mapping.
- Soft Skills are Sharpened
In order for STEM students to excel in environmental-focused careers, they need opportunities to develop non-technical skills in addition to mastering core curriculum. As a result, many universities are ramping up requirements for STEM students to enroll in soft skill-focused courses. From public speaking to managerial classes, many of the nation’s top engineering colleges are offering up courses that prepare students for the business side of sustainability.
- STEM Education is Pivotal to a Sustainable Future
Sustainability is the future, and STEM education is the key to getting there. With a hands-on curriculum, innovative technology and a holistic approach to learning, STEM education is necessary for preparing the next generation of sustainability experts.
Author Bio: Kyle Martin brings 11 years of storytelling experience to the content coordinator position at Florida Polytechnic University. In this role, Martin develops original content showcasing the University experience as a way to attract new students and faculty. He also lends editorial direction to University departments launching new projects and campaigns.