Have you ever sat in a mathematics or science class wondering why you would need this information and what the course had to do with a future career? If so, you’re not alone. There is a decline in graduates with degrees in the sciences, math and technology, but many occupations are growing more dependent upon skills taught in these degree areas.
Some studies predict students will not have the appropriate skills for several types of jobs when they seek employment, and the lack of interest in these subjects will cause a shortage of workers in critical areas. Currently, there is a nationwide initiative to get more students involved in these subjects by re-emphasizing how math and science skills are useful in everyday life and discussing exciting career paths in science, math, engineering and technology.
Science touches our lives in many ways — in medicine, computers, military defense, and textiles, to name a few. As new fields of science and technology emerge, so do new career opportunities. The physical, life, earth, applied, and engineering sciences provide stimulating and enriching opportunities for those with training in Science.
A solid foundation in mathematics and the sciences teaches you valuable problem solving and analytical skills necessary for success in any career. These skills are critical to you as an adult, whether you are reviewing the terms of a home loan, creating a yearly budget, saving for retirement or negotiating the terms of a car loan.
Skills learned in such classes as geometry, calculus and physics are now necessary for an increasing number of in-demand professions that are integral to sustaining our health care, renewable energy and information technology industries, among others.
The world is changing. Today, we rely on math and science in ways we could not imagine 30 years ago. Innovations in technology help us communicate across the globe with ease through satellites, the Internet and cell phones. These and many other devices help us work more efficiently and give us the capability to work with individuals in all corners of the globe. We are able to pay bills online, submit our taxes online and order everything from medication, groceries and gifts from our computer. Advances in medicine and engineering allow us to detect diseases earlier, find cures and perform new procedures.
To keep up with the growing demand for a workforce with specialized technical skills and knowledge, students need a solid foundation in math and science to prepare them for college and the workplace. An increasing number of well-paying jobs require a minimum of an associate’s degree, and companies are seeking employees who possess unique skill sets.
MCC alumnus Dr. Richard A. MacKenzie, an Operations Geologist with the ExxonMobil Exploration Company, described how his time at Mott Community College laid the foundation for an exciting career in Science. “MCC was the perfect transition from the military to college,” Dr. MacKenzie related, “It gave me the opportunity to discover exactly what type of career I wanted to pursue, and then gave me the opportunity to find the branch of science that was most interesting to me.”
According to MacKenzie, “Going to MCC was integral to preparation for a professional science career in two very important ways. First, as a scientist I was mentored and encouraged by Professor Frederick DeGroot throughout my Mott College career. He was the most influential person in my decisions to follow through on my education to my PhD. The second way MCC was significant in my science career was the opportunities for leadership and excellence. I was mentored in a professional setting and was able to learn how a large organization behaves. This is especially important at a large company such as ExxonMobil. I took advantage of every possibility at MCC to learn leadership.”
From his perspective, today’s students should think clearly about their career plans. “First, find what you are passionate about, what you love to do, and do it. Second, stand out, take every opportunity to find mentoring, leadership, professional experiences, and above all learn.” MacKenzie recalled when he was a young job applicant and about the man who hired him “He was impressed with all of the leadership roles I had through my college education starting with Mott College. Later it helped to have my Master’s degree funded by the National Science Foundation while teaching in an 8th grade classroom and my Ph.D. funded by NASA while working at the Kennedy Space Center, but all that started with my foundation at MCC.”
MCC graduate Adam Monroe went on to earn a degree in mechanical engineering from Kettering University and is employed at Key Safety Systems in Sterling Heights where he works on airbag/steering wheel development. Monroe encouraged current students to take advantage of the opportunities available at MCC. “Use the help that Mott College offers,” he advised. “I spent a lot of time with other students in the MCC Math Empowerment Center. We would each work on problems together and then compare what we did right or wrong. Also if you are unsure about a problem then don’t be afraid to ask the teacher for help. I know one student who spent more time in Professor DeGroot’s office than in the class room. It was not because his class was hard, but they just wanted to double check every problem and example and Professor DeGroot was happy.”
Kim Rogers also began at MCC and transferred to Kettering University. She praised MCC for giving her the foundation she needed. “The way Mott College provided hands-on use in the physics and chemistry labs brought classroom theory into practice and helped develop and improve technical research and testing skills. The small class sizes promoted building new relationships and friendships with classmates through classroom work and study groups developed and improved communication and listening skills necessary for working as a team.
“Being able to build relationships with instructors, I was able to get the assistance and encouragement to continue when frustrated with or having difficulties grasping a hold on concepts,” Rogers stated.
Anthony Napolitano is in his final year at UM-Flint, completing his degree in Human Biology and then going on to medical school after that. He also found Mott College to be a critical step in finding his path to a career in medicine.
“I came to MCC after having a very difficult time at a university,” Napolitano recalled. “I was very down on myself and wondered if I was really cut out for a college education and ultimately a successful career. Having dreamed of being a doctor since childhood, I refused to give up on that dream.”
According to Napolitano, “MCC gave me renewed faith in myself and in my abilities as a student of science. Class sizes were not overwhelming, professors were very welcoming, and all of that made the material easier and more fun to learn. After spending 3 years at MCC, I am more confident than ever that I can be a successful physician. MCC gave me the tools to make what I have to learn not so intimidating.”
“There were many pivotal moments during my time at MCC that I consider significant in my decision to follow a career in science,” Napolitano said. “However, there was one specific person that I consider my most significant supporter. I went into Dr. Ali Hekmati’s microbiology class still slightly intimidated and doubting myself. Within a week of being in that class, those doubts and feelings of intimidation disappeared. He is one of the most enthusiastic and supportive teachers I have ever encountered in all the years I have gone to school. He is so passionate about what he does, and so intelligent that it could easily intimidate students. But he does not boast about his intelligence. He is so much more concerned with his students and that their intelligence grows. His sense of humor made learning so much more fun, which was very refreshing in a class that consists mainly of discussing and handling bacteria.”
What is STEM?
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM, is an initiative focused on strengthening the educational pipeline that leads to STEM careers in order to fill workforce needs. The growth of many industries in the United States, as well as the development of new ones, is dependent upon engineers, mathematicians and scientists. Decreased numbers of graduates pursuing these fields could threaten our competitiveness in the global market and slow our economy.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment in science and engineering occupations will grow 70% faster than the overall growth for all occupations and average earnings for STEM workers was 70% more than the national average.
How You Can Begin a Career in Science, Mathematics or Technology
Explore programs and certificates that lead to great careers at Mott Community College. We have several degrees that will lead you to a STEM career:
• Applied Science and Engineering Technology
• Certificates available that lead directly to employment
• Computer Information Systems
• Engineering Science