STEM is the future


Briahna LeFave, Business & Technology Editor

With summer class registration already upon us and fall registration right around the corner, you may be wondering which classes to choose. UW-W offers over 300 elective general education classes alone. If you’re unsure of which direction to go, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) courses might be an avenue worth pursuing. 

It’s no secret that science and technology are advancing at a rapid pace, and careers in the STEM fields are on the rise as well. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupations in STEM will grow 10.5% over the next decade, while non-STEM occupations are predicted to grow 7.5%. Opportunities in these fascinating fields are truly endless and UWW is the perfect place to begin exploring. Classes like wildlife ecology, cryptography, network security, software engineering and microbiology are all courses that may inspire you to change the future and give you the tools to do so. 

Computer science major Jack Schnor says data structures was one of his favorite STEM courses so far, and that it was a class that has provided him with a lot of useful material. Schnor encourages other students to try out STEM classes or pursue STEM degrees.

“I think getting a STEM degree will always be beneficial, computers and other fields like sciences are always going to be big and important, and there is always something new to do. You will always have a use for it,” explains Schnor. “Computers are always changing, there are always new programs, new software, and new applications and uses for those computers. They are driving the world forward and so it is really important to have people working on and with them to keep that advancement going.”

Proof of the opportunities that can come from STEM pursuits can be seen in computer science assistant professor Haijian Sun, a recent recipient of a $200,000 National Science Foundation grant to construct advanced communication systems in automated “smart cars.” With this grant, the assistant professor hopes to make integral contributions to connected vehicle research. Sun encourages students to capitalize on how pursuing STEM fields of study might benefit them, and offers some advice to find academic and professional successes in STEM.

“We are in an era that witnesses the strong demands of the STEM workforce. I cannot think of a better time to be in STEM areas. The first thing is to be curious. Always think about why things happen in certain ways, especially in the science and engineering field, understanding principles is the first step,” explains Sun. “Second is to be passionate about what you do. STEM fields are quite challenging at times. But if you have the passion, that can keep you investing more time and help stay dedicated to an area. The last is to be collaborative. Many problems in STEM are interdisciplinary that require group efforts and collaborations.” 

No matter which STEM courses you explore or fields of study you pursue, STEM careers will always be in need to preserve the integrity of the present while cultivating the innovations of the future.

“We use technology to enable better well-being and lead to potential societal benefits, such as economic growth. From my own perspective, I think the trend of strong STEM demands should remain in the near future. Technology is a tool that we use to assist us to achieve better living goals,” says Sun. “It is not surprising that we will see technologies such as autonomous driving, innovations in medical care, and highly capable robots around us very soon.”