STEM at MCC

Science. Technology. Engineering. Mathematics. These four subjects are collectively referred to as “STEM” and have become the focus of a large number of educational programs across the country. MCC is an active participant in that focus.

Along with Johnson County Community College, MCC hosted the 2012 STEMtech Conference held in Kansas City in October. The conference, according to its presenter, The League for Innovation, is “designed to help increase student success in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; better align educational systems with each other and local workforce needs; and explore technology’s role in the teaching and learning processes.”

This year’s STEMtech Conference attracted 1200 people to its weekend of breakout sessions covering topics such as “Integrating Technology Into Teaching Biology and Chemistry,” “Mission to Mars: A Student-Driven Experience,” and “Building Bridges: Connecting History, Philosophy, Science, and Technology.” MCC employees accounted for 120 volunteers at the event.

Janet Wyatt, MCC-Longview division chair for math, engineering and physics, is a big supporter of STEM education and was on the steering committee for the conference. While Wyatt focuses on STEM courses in her teaching, she sees the importance of integrating writing into those as well. Along with Longview faculty members Mary McMullen-Light, Coordinator, Writing Across the Curriculum; Dan Justice, Engineering; Leann Lotz-Todd, Mathematics; and Anne Nienhueser, Physics, she presented at the breakout session, “Calculated Risk With High Yield: Writing in Math, Engineering, and Physics.” Selected student projects were shown illustrating how students responded to the productive learning experiences each instructor orchestrated. Integrating liberal arts and humanities aspects into science and technology courses helps technology-focused students be that much more successful in their chosen fields.

MCC-Longview also hosts an annual Engineering Night, which is co-sponsored with Missouri University of Science and Technology (MST). This year’s program, held in November, was attended by 139 students and guests. Those who are interested in STEM fields, specifically engineering, have the opportunity to learn about MCC-Longview’s engineering program, transfer agreements with MST, career opportunities and class demonstrations.

Wyatt remarks about the transfer program between the two institutions, “Students who start their education at MCC perform as well if not better than those who start at MST.” She also notes that many of her students have gone on to become leaders at MST.

According to MST’s website, the majority of transfer students were satisfied with the academic preparation they received at their transfer school and feel prepared to be successful at S&T. Students planning to transfer to MST can follow the transfer guides provided on MCC’s website or degree specific transfer guides on MST’s website.

The U.S. Commerce Department expects STEM jobs to grow at nearly twice the rate of non-STEM jobs by 2018. The majority of STEM related fields require a bachelor’s degree and MCC can be the first step on the road to success, but opportunities do exist for STEM workers with an associate’s degree. MCC plans to remain an active participant in the educational growth of students interested in these fields that drive everything from agriculture to energy and medicine.