What are the Top Skills Undergraduate Students Need to Succeed in STEM?

These days, STEM is a term pretty much everyone in education is using, and for good reason. A robust STEM curriculum is essential for producing graduates prepared to succeed in the workforce. In 2012, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology launched the Engage to Excel program, which provides a strategy for improving STEM education during the first two years of college.

The popularity of science and engineering undergraduate degrees has increased by 19 percent between 2009 and 2013, according to the National Math and Science Initiative. Similarly, the demand for STEM skills has grown tremendously, with many job opportunities becoming available to graduates in the field. By 2018, it’s expected that 92 percent of all traditional STEM employees will have post-secondary training and education.

With that being said, there is a certain set of skills students are expected to have when they apply for these jobs.

“92% of all traditional STEM employees will have post-secondary training and education.”

1. Cognitive skills. Cognitive skills are crucial for all students to have if they expect to succeed in the STEM workforce, the Community for Advancing Discovery Research in Education stated. Students should be excellent critical thinkers and able to solve any problem. Often, these students will be able to think outside the box and use innovation to help solve these problems. They also should have great reasoning and argumentation skills. If challenged, students need to be able to defend their idea and prove to someone why it might work.

2. Interpersonal skills. Students should also have great interpersonal skills if they’re looking to excel in this field. While interpersonal skills are often critical for any industry, they are especially important for the STEM workforce. When solving a problem, students will often have to work with a group of people. The same goes in the real world. An automotive engineer will need to work with designers as well as those in manufacturing to help ensure the product is developed correctly. STEM students should be effective communicators and listeners, and they should be willing to hear others’ ideas as well as discuss their own.

STEM students should be willing to work together to successfully solve problems.STEM students should be willing to work together to successfully solve problems.

3. Intrapersonal skills. Students should also be intrapersonal. Aside from dealing with others, they need to know how to deal with problems on their own. If something doesn’t work, they must be able to study it and be motivated to figure out a new way to solve that problem. Successful STEM students are flexible and receptive to change, and they have the passion and determination to see a project through and jumpstart ideas on their own, according to Purdue University. These days, technology is constantly advancing and developing, but there are also setbacks along the way. Students should be able to properly handle these setbacks, address them appropriately and continue to progress to compete in the global market.

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