Modern STEM facilities in higher education are critical to Utah’s future

Utah’s STEM industries are growing (STEM=Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). According to the Utah Department of Workforce Services, most job growth since the Great Recession occurred in the STEM fields.

We know STEM jobs work:
• STEM workers earn higher wages than other degree holders.
• STEM job growth rapidly outpaces that of other industries.
• STEM workers are among the least likely to be unemployed.

In recent years Utah has grown STEM awareness and access for students through industry-supported STEM initiatives such as the STEM Action Center, and has increased funding for Utah’s Engineering Initiative. With eight out of 10 college-bound high school graduates coming to one of Utah’s higher education campuses, the need to expand capacity with state-of-the-art STEM facilities is more urgent than ever.

Currently, Utah’s public colleges and universities are barely meeting industry demand for critical STEM talent because of capacity bottlenecks and infrastructure limitations.

Even with more and more delivery of college courses moving online, education and training in STEM fields require up-to-date, high-tech and dynamic facilities. The labs and classrooms of today’s STEM programs are different than those found in yesterday’s science buildings; for instance, physical space that allows students to collaborate and work in teams is essential to help develop contemporary STEM workplace skills. Unfortunately, much of the current STEM infrastructure at Utah’s colleges and universities is outdated, run-down and limited in capacity. Without expanded and updated STEM facilities, the potential of a talent export of Utah’s best and brightest interested in STEM training will remain.

A long-term commitment

The graphic below shows the STEM facilities the State Board of Regents and the Utah Legislature have prioritized in recent years at many USHE institutions. This year, the State Board of Regents is continuing its commitment to the state and industry for more STEM graduates by prioritizing the following STEM-focused capital development projects for the 2015 Legislative Session:

  1. University of Utah – Crocker Science Center
  2. Snow College – Science Building Replacement
  3. Salt Lake Community College – CTE Learning & Resource Center
  4. Utah State University – Biological Sciences Center

The Board recognizes additional building needs at USHE institutions prioritized below these top STEM priorities. Additional information on the Board of Regents capital facilities priorities is available.

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