Why We Need More STEM Professionals Within the Military Spouse Community
About the Author

Michelle Aikman is a military spouse and career management expert.

Outside of the military community, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is getting a lot of buzz lately. In fact, STEM is a major part of the current federal education plan because investing in exposing and educating our youth is critical to developing the workforce needed to fulfill the future demands of our fast-paced world. STEM professionals are vital to protecting our environment, improving our way of life, safeguarding us from harm, and developing innovative solutions to the most complex problems.   

Back up! What is STEM?

STEM encompasses four different disciplines: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Each discipline is broad and encompasses a wide range of fields, professions, and curriculum. Science is the systematic study of our world. Through observation and experiment, scientists are working to better understand our history and how it works. Technology is the practical application of scientific knowledge that makes our lives easier or solves problems. Engineering is the application of scientific, mathematical, economic, social, and practical knowledge to invent, innovate, design, build, maintain, improve, and solve problems in the real world. Mathematics is the abstract science of numbers, quantity, and space.   

Why is STEM education important?

A STEM education leads to an alternate way of looking at and thinking about the world.

Typically, STEM professionals are:

✓ critical thinkers;

✓ problem solvers; and

✓ innovators.

We don’t all need to be STEM professionals, but we certainly need them in our world.  

How does all of this relate to the military community?

Our military is composed of highly skilled servicemembers who accomplish the impossible every day. They are choosing spouses who are just as driven and committed to making a difference in this world. Military spouses are diverse and that should include those in the STEM fields.   

However, the reality is there aren’t very many military spouses in STEM. Take my personal experience as an indicator of the scarcity: I constantly reached out to find other military spouse engineers, and it took me more than 10 years before I found one. I teamed up with another military spouse and founded the Society of Military Spouses in STEM. We have gathered about 75 military spouses who have STEM educations, are STEM professionals, or are interested in STEM. Out of 1.1 million military spouses, that number needs to be higher.  

Why?

In addition to solving our world’s most pressing problems and advancing the human race, there also are many challenges and issues right here within our military community that will be best solved by those of us in it. We need critical thinkers. We need problem solvers. We need innovators. We need more military spouses in STEM and we need to support them.  

How are we going to do it? Please share your ideas in the comments or reach out to me directly.

 
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