Emergent BioSolutions calls for STEM education improvement in U.S

The private sector and government policymakers must join together to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in the U.S., Daniel Abdun-Nabi, the president and CEO of Emergent BioSolutions, said on Sunday.

Abdun-Nabi and Elaine Scott, the dean of the School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics at the University of Washington at Bothell, said the federal government must work to develop the STEM workforce of tomorrow. Industries like biotechnology, software and aerospace are continuing to expand, but American high schools and colleges are producing fewer students with STEM core competencies, HeraldNet reports.

"Right now, the American education system is unable to meet this demand," Abdun-Nabi and Scott said, according to HeraldNet. "In 19 other developed countries, colleges are graduating more STEM students than in the United States. One-fourth of American high-school students never attain math proficiency, and only seven percent reach the top two tiers of science skills."

The pharmaceutical industry has contributed more than $100 million to STEM promotion programs since 2008. Emergent BioSolutions, a global specialty pharmaceutical company, annually hosts middle school, high school and college students for experiments, tours, discussions and poster sessions about STEM careers.

"In the United States, too few students will find their way into STEM fields on their own," Abdun-Nabi and Scott said, according to HeraldNet. "They need to be shown a path, and that entails getting them excited about science and technology at an early age."

Bioscience leaders in Washington state recently hosted the annual Life Science Day in Olympia. They met with and educated state legislators about the importance and need for STEM education, HeraldNet reports.

"The STEM event in Olympia highlighted the need for an effective partnership between the private sector and government policymakers," Abdun-Nabi and Scott said, according to HeraldNet. "Now, we need to replicate that cooperation at the federal level. Only four countries spend more than the United States per student, but American performance has stagnated as other countries have improved. We need action from both the private and public sectors to address this challenge."