Highly skilled jobs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – known as STEM – are expected to increase by 2014, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). But, according to STEMconnector, a national report, blacks will probably have few of them.
“I believe these numbers are so low because a lot of African Americans are scared of the challenges that they will face in math and science classes,” Michael Reid, a junior engineering major at Morgan State University, said.
Morgan is doing something about that.
“We are introducing the youth to STEM, making sure they are ready to really go out there and ascend, and to take on the roles that they need to be prepared for college and then to be successful in college,” Morgan President David Wilson said back in April at a meeting about an organization that concentrates on improving the local communities, called the Morgan Community Mile.
The School of Engineering has two programs, The NASA Science Engineering Mathematics and Aerospace Academy (SEMAA) and The Saturday Academy. Both programs aim to improve the skills of students in STEM, while increasing participation and retention of historically black colleges and universities for grades K-12.
“Each year, parents have called me to say ‘I want my child in’,” said Myra Curtis, the program director. “The parents know their child will be in good hands.” The students do not come home without working on their math and critical thinking skills, and at the end of each day, they independently work on a STEM activity. Each week’s activity goes toward the closing ceremonies where the students show off their work and progress.
“It’s all about the exposure,” said Curtis. The curriculum supports SEMAA’s ‘hands on, minds on’ mantra.
Randy Watts, an 18-year-old senior at Broadneck High School in Annapolis, took part in the SEMAA program in 2011 and 2012 at Morgan. “We participated in many hands-on projects, field trips, and also [were] introduced to many different people with jobs in the engineering field,” he said. “That alone was very beneficial to me because I learned more about the career field that I plan to pursue.”
The programs last for approximately 10 Saturdays, starting in the fall. The Saturday Academy classes are available only during the fall semesters. The SEMAA program is offered all year, which is eight consecutive Saturdays, and the summer sessions are four one-week sessions, meeting from Monday through Friday.
“I would definitely recommend this program to other students just for the experience; this program gave me an idea what to look forward to in college,” said Watts.
Applications can be obtained at www.morgan.edu. Search: SEMAA. The SEMAA office is located in Montebello C-108. They can also be reached at 443-885-3304. The application fee for the Saturday Academy requires a $50 deposit.