MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. -- The Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Defense Education Activity chose an elementary school here to announce a new partnership meant to advance science, technology, engineering and math education in schools. Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, or USACE, and Marilee Fitzgerland, director, Department of Defense Education Activity, or DoDEA, visited with students at the Ashurst Elementary School on Marine Corps Base Quantico, May 20, 2013, and also signed the agreement that signifies the new partnership. The purpose of the partnership is to advance advance science, technology, engineering and math, also known as STEM, education at DoDEA elementary and secondary schools around the world. Bostick, who is the commanding general and chief of engineers with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, paid tribute to teachers and stressed the importance of education, especially in the STEM fields. He said the Army Corps of Engineers is ready to be an active partner in the undertaking. The general said the U.S. is falling behind in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics career fields. He said young students who chose to focus on STEM education with a goal of entering related career fields as adults would help in keeping America competitive.
"Only 14 countries in the world produce a smaller percentage of engineers than the United States, including countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia and Cuba," Bostick said. "Out of 100 U.S. college graduates, four are engineers. In Russia, that number is 10. In China, it's 31." Fitzgerald expressed the enthusiasm and commitment of DoDEA's teachers and staff for the program. "DoDEA is truly honored and grateful for the opportunity to partner with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to focus on preparing the next generation to develop the skills, capacity, flexibility and perseverance they will need to ensure our nation continues to be a world leader in the STEM fields," she said. "This collaborative effort will form a team that will make an impact on the lives of our students, excite them about STEM's potential and inspire them to pursue a STEM-related career," Fitzgerald said. The program will include the development of a specific civil works project or other USACE function that directly relates to DoDEA's STEM content and curriculum. The USACE interns and DoDEA students will collaborate on projects and their efforts will culminate in a competition and awards ceremony held two times each school year. The partnership's focus aligns with the White House's and Department of Education's focus on educating global leaders and preparing students for STEM careers in the global economy. According to the Department of Education, careers in all STEM-related fields will increase 14 percent between now and 2020, with even more job growth expected in STEM-related areas such as mathematics, computer science, and the biomedical fields.