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STEM Initiatives Help Youth Pursue Careers in Mission Critical Ops

Teacher with students sitting at the college lecture hall.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic ushered its first breath, the National Science Foundation (NSF) was putting together a report calling for a focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education to meet the needs of a digital first world.

“Rapid technological advancements and societal changes are our daily reality,” wrote the NSF. “While the future of work, the economy, and society is uncertain, one thing is not: To maintain the nation’s leadership in science and technology discovery, we must create an approach to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education that prepares and advances the U.S. for the future.”

“STEM Education for the Future: A Visioning Report” was published in May 2020 and by that time the pandemic was already accelerating our embrace of all things digital, making the report’s vision clear as a crystal ball.

“Experts agree that science, engineering and math will drive new innovations across disciplines, making use of computational power to accelerate discoveries, and finding creative ways to work across disciplinary silos to solve big challenges,” said the NSF.

Data Center, IT & Mission Critical Industry Supports STEM

STEM is especially important to train data center, IT and mission critical professions which is why industry advocate, 7x24 Exchange International, supports a variety of STEM initiatives.

“7x24 Exchange is dedicated to fostering STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education through a variety of programs and initiatives,” says 7x24 Exchange. “We are committed to encouraging our youth to pursue careers in these disciplines while actively promoting the mission critical operations sector as an integral part of the global community.”

7x24 Exchange initiatives and programs include:

  • International Data Center Day: Held each March, International Data Center Day is designed to create awareness of the data center industry and to inspire the next generation of talent.
  • Data Center 101: Data Center 101 is designed to educate students about the infrastructure, technology and operations of a data center and illustrate future opportunities in the mission critical industry.
  • 7x24 Exchange Mentoring Program: The Mentor/Protégé Program provides students and early career professionals with opportunities to receive meaningful 1-on-1 career guidance from a practicing industry professional.
  • Women in Mission Critical Operations (WiMCO): As the leading knowledge exchange in the mission critical space, 7x24 Exchange recognizes the importance of increasing the engagement and participation of women in the industry.
  • Northern California Chapter Cal Poly Student Club: In 2016, the Northern California Chapter of 7x24 Exchange formed the 7x24 Exchange Student Club at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo to educate students on the mission critical industry.
  • NIA Community Services Network: 7x24 Exchange is an avid supporter of the NIA Community Services Network. NIA is a non-for-profit community service organization dedicated to addressing issues that impact youth, families, and seniors. NIA has a STEM initiative for elementary school students.

“By working together during and after International Data Center Day, the industry can connect with future generations and ensure a steady flow of skilled labor, enhance the public image of data centers and safeguard the ongoing prosperity of the data center industry,” says International Data Center Day literature.

 Graduate Business Schools Establish STEM Tracks

At the higher educational levels, an increasing number of full-time MBA programs across the U.S. have added designated STEM programs.

“For the last six years, but especially since 2019, business schools from the upper tier of the rankings to the unranked have galloped to establish STEM tracks, concentrations, pathways, and more in their MBA and other graduate degree programs,” reports Marc Ethier in Poets & Quants.

Global education services company Kaplan and its sister company Manhattan Prep released their annual business school admissions officers survey in January 2022 that found 22 percent of programs now offer designated STEM programs, almost double from 2020 when just 13 percent were designated STEM programs.

Another 23 percent told Kaplan that they were going to go through the curriculum overhaul and rigorous approval process to secure the STEM designation in the future.

“To understand the appeal of STEM, you need to look at the current U.S. immigration system as it pertains to highly skilled workers. International graduates of U.S. business schools may hold U.S. jobs for only 12 months before needing an H1-B visa,” writes Ethier. “But there’s a workaround. In 2016, the federal government created the STEM Designated Degree Program, which makes it possible for international graduates to remain stateside for an additional 24 months after graduation and receive training through work experience.”

STEM Programs at the Top U.S. Business Schools

Poets & Quants says that all the top 25 business schools established STEM in their MBA curricula with 10 schools in the top 25 and half of the Top 10 making their entire MBA program STEM.

Here is the Top 10:

  • Stanford GSB: Entire Full-Time MBA, MSx Degrees
  • Chicago (Booth): Entire Full-Time MBA
  • UPenn (Wharton): Majors in Full-Time MBA: Actuarial Science; Business Analytics; Business Economics & Public Policy; Business, Energy, Environment & Sustainability; Operations, Information & Decisions; Statistics; Quantitative Finance
  • Northwestern (Kellogg): Entire Full-Time MBA (2Y and 1Y); Entire Evening & Weekend MBA; MMM Program; MBAi
  • Harvard Business School: Management Science Track in Full-Time MBA, MS/MBA: Engineering Sciences Program
  • MIT (Sloan): Entire Full-Time MBA, Sloan Fellows MBA, Sloan Executive MBA
  • Columbia Business School: Entire Full-Time MBA; Executive MBA; Mast of Science degrees in Marketing, Financial Economics, and Accounting and Fundamental Analysis
  • UC-Berkley (Haas): Entire Full-Time MBA, Evening & Weekend MBA, Executive MBA
  • Dartmouth (Tuck): Management Science & Quantitative Analysis Track in Full-Time MBA
  • Yale SOM: Management Science Concentration in MBA, Master of Advanced Management; Entire Master of Asset Management

“Earning a STEM designation is a trend that is catching on quickly, especially among the top-ranked MBA programs," Kaplan's Brian Carlidge says. "For less competitive programs, the adoption has been steady, but a lot slower. And not having that designation could significantly hamstring their efforts to recruit international students, many of whom want to build a life and career in the United States after graduation.”

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