Expansion of STEM education to Black communities is needed

August 30, 2021 - 08:30 AM

By VICTORIA LUZ (BAMM Network) — During a forum sponsored by alliantgroup, a Texas management and tax consulting firm, Dr. Calvin Mackie, leader of STEM Global Action (SGA) calls educators, government, and corporate America to support teaching STEM to Black and other POC students. Dr. Mackie cites the wide gap that exists between Blacks and whites when it comes to STEM college graduates and jobs. 

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Dr. Mackie, a motivational speaker, engineering professor, and leader of STEM Global Action discussed strategies on closing the STEM gap in America in a forum. He cited that every Black and Brown boy is introduced to football before the age of four and isn't exposed to things that involve their future education. This reflects on how few African American workers there are in the STEM workforce, which is roughly 9%.  Backs are only 5% of those in engineering and architecture and 6% in life and physical science jobs.  Data also shows that roughly 20% of whites and students of color declare STEM subjects as majors entering college, but nearly 40% of minority students change their majors and more than 20% leave school without earning a degree. While Blacks, Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Hispanics collectively form 27% of the population, they account for only 11% of America’s science and engineering workers. This goes to show that not every one of color is provided the same opportunities or given the same resources when it comes to getting quality STEM education.

“We have to talk about STEM for all.  We've got to make sure that the resources…are applied equally to communities,” said Dr. Mackie. He believes that having role models to look up to, especially for children who belong to under-resourced communities and who don't have expansive access to STEM networks.  “We have to marshal resources, technology, and human resources back into those communities, so those kids can see, touch, and feel people who look like them, even some who don’t look like them, so they know that they can achieve at those levels, too.” 

It has been Dr. Mackie's mission to expand STEM education in communities of color by bringing programming into disadvantaged neighborhoods. In 2013, he founded STEM NOLA, a New Orleans-based, non-profit that delivers STEM education in churches, community centers, and schools.  The program has impacted more than 70,000 students, 17,000 families, and 2,150 schools across the U.S. and in five other countries.

“We created a pathway for people to give back,” Dr. Mackie said, explaining that his programs enlist volunteers from companies in local communities to work with the students, and enhance their STEM skills.

About Dr. Calvin Mackie

Dr. Calvin Mackie holds Bachelor of Science degrees in Mathematics and Mechanical Engineering (Morehouse College), as well as a Bachelor’s, Master’s and Ph.D. (Georgia Tech). who holds Bachelor of Science degrees in Mathematics and Mechanical Engineering (Morehouse College), as well as a Bachelor’s,     Master’s and Ph.D. (Georgia Tech)

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Photo Credit: BizNewOrleans.com

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